Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Salon: Reading Wind in the Willows (1907)

The Wind in the Willows. Kenneth Grahame. Illustrated by David Roberts. 1907/2013. Candlewick. 256 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

I enjoyed spending time with Mole, Rat, Toad, and Badger. I believe this was only the second time I'd read this children's classic. It was a good read. Some chapters I liked more than others, of course. But overall, it was a book that I enjoyed. I'm not sure I loved it however.

Do you have a favorite character? A favorite scene? Do you like Toad despite his obsession with motor cars?! Do you think his friends are right to try to convert him?

Favorite quotes:
He thought his happiness was complete when, as he meandered aimlessly along, suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river. Never in his life had he seen a river before—this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shake and a-shiver—glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spell-bound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.
'Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.
Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not.
Packing the basket was not quite such pleasant work as unpacking' the basket. It never is. 
for it is impossible to say quite ALL you feel when your head is under water. 
Early or late he's always the same fellow.
"What are we to do with him?" asked the Mole of the Water Rat.
"Nothing at all," replied the Rat firmly. "Because there is really nothing to be done. You see, I know him from old. He is now possessed. He has got a new craze, and it always takes him that way, in its first stage. He'll continue like that for days now, like an animal walking in a happy dream, quite useless for all practical purposes. Never mind him.
At this very moment, perhaps, Toad is busy arraying himself in those singularly hideous habiliments so dear to him, which transform him from a (comparatively) good-looking Toad into an Object which throws any decent-minded animal that comes across it into a violent fit. We must be up and doing, ere it is too late. You two animals will accompany me instantly to Toad Hall, and the work of rescue shall be accomplished.' 'Right you are!' cried the Rat, starting up. 'We'll rescue the poor unhappy animal! We'll convert him! He'll be the most converted Toad that ever was before we've done with him!'
At first Toad was undoubtedly very trying to his careful guardians. When his violent paroxysms possessed him he would arrange bedroom chairs in rude resemblance of a motor-car and would crouch on the foremost of them, bent forward and staring fixedly ahead, making uncouth and ghastly noises, till the climax was reached, when, turning a complete somersault, he would lie prostrate amidst the ruins of the chairs, apparently completely satisfied for the moment. As time passed, however, these painful seizures grew gradually less frequent, and his friends strove to divert his mind into fresh channels. But his interest in other matters did not seem to revive, and he grew apparently languid and depressed.
Try and grasp the fact that on this occasion we're not arguing with you; we're just telling you. 
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Sally said...

Ah... Wind in the Willows - happy childhood memories! I'm fond of Toad, he means well and does right by his friends in the end. I'm also partial to Ratty's nonchalant character. He makes me smile.

JaneGS said...

The Wind in the Willows was one of 4 books that my dad read to me (and my siblings) repeatedly when we were young. So I've heard it many times, reread it once before reading it aloud to my kids.

I especially loved the list of items in the picnic basket. That, even more than the river, I think is what sold Mole on the need to be friends with Ratty.

My dad used to read that list so perfectly. My own version was a pale imitation of his rendering.

A much loved book.

hopeinbrazil said...

This is a book I only discovered as an adult, but its one of my absolute favorites for its beautiful language and its story of enduring friendship. Thanks for the quotes that recalled some of my own favorite passages.