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Return to the Willows
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Newbery Honor-winning author Jacqueline Kelly's "respectful sequel" to Kenneth Grahame's century-old classic is true to both the language and the spirit of the original, and Clint Young's lively, full-color illustrations make the book visually gorgeous as well. The original's leisurely pace and flowery language return here, often with comical explanatory footnotes, so those who found The Wind in the Willows slow going may have similar issues here. But the adventures are fun, the characters irresistible, the lessons plentiful--and the opportunities for kids who love big words are practically endless. And the same ornate language that may be an obstacle for younger readers is great for reading aloud.
What's the story?
Picking up where we last saw our heroes Rat, Mole, Badger, and the irrepressible, well-meaning, disaster-prone Mr.Toad, author Jacqueline Kelly (who won a Newbery Honor for The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate) soon has them all embarked on new escapades in RETURN TO THE WILLOWS. Toad makes a brief foray into hot-air ballooning before being transformed into a genius by a laboratory accident; Rat develops a love interest; and an unlikely but fast friendship develops between Toad's brainy nephew, Humphrey, and Sammy, an impoverished young weasel. Disaster lurks around every corner, waiting for Rat, Mole, and Badger to save the day.
Is it any good?
This retains much of the original book’s fondness for lush descriptions, ornate adjectives, and philosophical sidetracks, which may be a turnoff for some kids who prefer a faster-moving story. But it also makes the book excellent read-aloud material. New Zealand-born author Texas resident Jacqueline Kelly keeps the Edwardian turn of phrase and supplements the more obscure Britishisms and foreign terms with explanatory, often hilarious footnotes for the benefit of the modern reader. The Wind in the Willows isn't every kid's dish, or every adult's for that matter, but those who love it will be glad to plunge into Kelly's "respectful sequel."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether it's a good idea for different authors to write sequels to beloved classics. Why or why not? Can you think of any good or bad examples?
If you've also read The Wind in the Willows, how do you think this compares?
If you had to depend on one of the characters here to save you from trouble, which one would you pick?
- Author: Jacqueline Kelly
- Illustrator: Clint Young
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, Friendship, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, Inc.
- Publication date: October 30, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 18
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.