What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that these beautifully written, richly inventive adventures are best for children with patience. Patrick Benson's art adds nothing over Ernest H. Shepherd's original drawings.
What's the story?
Wealthy, spoiled Toad has a way of getting his friends in trouble, especially when he gets a motor car, but he can always count on Mole, Water Rat, and Badger to get him out again. A timeless classic for generations, though rather difficult for many of today's children. Benson's illustrations are adequate, but add nothing new.
Is it any good?
Kenneth Grahame, who wrote this as a series of bedtime stories for his son in 1908, introduces readers to a society filled with animal etiquette. The underground Badger appears to be society-hating, but does follow protocol; it bothers him most that vain and trendy Toad (the most entertaining character) does just what he wants. Toad gets bored with boating and finds a new hobby -- motor cars -- that results in a prison break and a somewhat reformed Toad sees the error of his ways through the help of his pals. Friendship drives this social structure, and this story.
Patrick Benson's cross-hatched drawings are so similar to Ernest H. Shepard's original ink drawings that they seem redundant. Parents who remember the version with Shepard's illustrations will not find these jarring, but may prefer to share with their children the edition they remember.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about character. Do you like Toad at the outset?
Would you want him as a friend?
How do the characters learn and grow from their relationships?