What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the beautifully written, richly inventive adventures chronicled in Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows are best for children with patience. Kids may be more familiar with TV and film versions based on the original book. There's a bit of violence when Toad gets into a fight with the ferrets and weasels. A ferret shoots at Toad, Rat puts pistols in his belt, and Otter cuffs a rabbit.
What's the story?
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.
Is it any good?
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. Friendship drives this social structure and this story.
A timeless classic for generations, THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS may be difficult for today's kids in terms of its language and pacing. But parents can help in a read-aloud setting. Patrick Benson's cross-hatched drawings in this edition are so similar to Ernest H. Shepard's original ink drawings that they don't add anything particularly new.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the character of Toad. Do you like him at the outset?
Would you want Toad as a friend?
How do the characters learn and grow from their relationships?