In the first of these two animated adaptations, both gently narrated by Vanessa Redgrave, Moley, Mr. Toad, and the rest of the right, proper riverbank battalion are portrayed tastefully, wittily, and with charm by the buck... more »etsful. True to the tale, Mole abandons his modest home in favor of an apprenticeship on the ways of the river alongside knowledgeable Rat; Toad's enthusiasm for motorcars earns him a 20-year sentence; and young Portly the otter goes missing, giving everyone a scare. The lushness of Kenneth Grahame's writing is preserved throughout--those enchanted by the classic kids' story needn't be wary of memory muddling. Next up is the sequel, usually a letdown, but here a thrilling (though less literary) ride. If The Wind in the Willows tugs viewers through the river reeds with its graceful, enchanting words, The Willows in Winter hurtles them along with its bumpy adventures, all linked to the restless, irascible Toad. This time, the wily bugger takes to the skies in a search for Moley, who's lost in a river-swelling winter storm. Along the way he loops-the-loop one time too many, sending passenger Ratty tumbling. Then there's the small matter that he swiped the plane he's piloting, an offense punishable by a lengthy prison sentence. Well-connected, formidable Badger bails him out, but a lesson on humility awaits the shifty amphibian back at Toad Hall. In The Wind in the Willows, Grahame writes, "When I was young, we always had mornings like this." Viewers of all ages who tune in to this two-parter will come away wishing they did, too. --Tammy La Gorce« less
"When I was very young (about six thousand years ago), our school master used to read to us from Wind in the Willows. The stories had a magical quality and a few weeks ago, as a somewhat older person, I got to wondering whether they would still have that sense of enchantment that held us so captivated all those years ago.I was NOT disappointed. Toad was just as cantankerous and difficult as ever. Badger, Rat and Mole were just as supportive - just as memorable. Badger is unpredictable but protective (and sometimes mean). Mole is timid and shy. Rat is courageous and romantic. And who could ever forget those dreadful gun-toting weasels, ferrets and stoats glorying in their take-over of Toad Hall? Wind in the Willows is a true masterpiece of allegory with endless moral lessons disguised as a children's story. It is also a lesson in things long-forgotten... the glory of floating noiselessly down a river at dawn, past loosestrife, willowherb, bulrushes and meadowsweet. How many of us have even heard of these meadow plants, never mind seen them. But it doesn't matter, because it evokes nostalgia either for things long-forgotten or for things never-known.At a child's level, Wind in the Willows is about friendship and about life in an imagined world centered around the river. At a less innocent level, Wind in the Willows draws many parallels with life, though Kenneth Grahame managed to avoid preaching his lessons. Not the least of Graham's parables is that 'the bigger they are, the harder they fall' because Toad is as egotistical and as self-important as they come until being thrown in jail for 'borrowing' a car. After that, it's all downhill for Toad, and it is only thanks to the loyalty of his friends that he regains some of his position in society - though not before learning a little humility first.Though, at an older age, we pretend to be more sophisticated, at heart we always hold out the hope of a return to innocence and simple adventures. We are still (most of us) perfectly capable of identifying with the animals and the idea, as one reviewer put it, of two school-aged hedgehogs frying ham for a mole and a water rat, in a badger's kitchen does my imagination no harm whatsoever! As for Grahame's choice of phrase (...the "remotest dungeon of the best-guarded keep of the stoutest castle in all the length and breadth of Merry England"...) it's almost as poetically attention-grabbing as Rowan Atkinson's Blackadder series.If you're looking for laser guns and hi-tech wars, W-i-t-W is NOT the book to buy. If you're after something a little more gentle (and a little more intelligent) Wind in the Willows is an outstanding example of a Classic that continues to withstand the test of time."
A great book to read to your kids
Joanna Daneman | Middletown, DE USA | 03/26/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wind in the Willows is a longtime favorite of many people (and I just re-read it as an adult.) The story centers around the animal citizens of an English riverbank. Each animal has a different personality, from easy-going Mole to the wise and wiley Badger, the spoiling-for-a-fight Weasels and of course boastful Toad, the owner of splendid Toad Hall who has too much money and too little sense to know what to do with it. The education of Toad by his well-meaning friends is a good lesson. The battle for Toad Hall near the end of the book is also exciting.
The content is entirely suitable for kids. The prose is a pleasure to read out loud and creates such pictures in one's imagination. And it's funny, too (the scene where Toad is nearly struck down by a car, which he has never seen before, and decides he MUST have one is absolutely hysterical.)
If you are starting a reading-out-loud program at home, this should be at the top of your list. I'd also add Swiss Family Robinson to that list. I have wonderful memories of my teachers and parents reading these books to me. Why not give your kids the same lasting delight in good literature, reading and family fun.
Note: suitable for grades 4-8 and the writing is somewhat complex, so some 4th graders will find it a rough go."
The Willow has Withered
Nohbdy | New England | 02/16/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"If you are looking for The Wind in the Willows, keep looking because this is not it. All the British terminology has been removed, most of the references to things British have been removed, all references to guns & knives have been removed (but they left in the picture of Ratty entering Toad Hall with gun in hand), the entire chapter with Pan--one of the most enchanting in the entire book--has been removed, and most references to other literature (such as the chapter title "The Return of Ulysses") have been removed.
What's left? Not much. The story has been so altered as to take all the life out of it. Supposedly this has been done to make the story more accessible to young American readers. To which I reply, let the young American readers work their way up to Wind in the Willows under the tutelage of parents or teachers who love the real story and then give the original version of the book to the children. Wind in the Willows is a wonderful book but this version is not."
Another classic for all ages
Joanna Daneman | 11/30/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was introduced to the denizens of the river when I was very small - maybe age three or four. My edition was illustrated by Arthur Rackham, still the best version to this day, IMO (much as I love Ernest Shepherd's work...)I still remember being entranced by the juxtaposition of lyrical descriptions and occasionally wild and crazy action, expecially when Mr. Toad was involved - prefect balance for a child, and a terrific introduction to the wonders of the language in the hands of a true master. And one phrase - "Be my eyes, Ratty!" - has stayed with me ever since - that was when I really GOT the idea of helping and selflessness.I still have my beat-up old book and make sure that all the children of my acquaintance have a good hardback Rackham copy. This classic - forget Disney - is right up there with the original Poohs, and I'm sure it will remain a favorite for generations to come. Do yourself and the children in your life a favor and read it - preferably out loud - and prepare to laugh, smile, shed a tear, and never forget."
Check your Text
Nohbdy | New England | 02/24/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"In response to the 5 star reviewer, I encourage her to check her text's publication date. I used the Scholastic version of The Wind in the Willows for years and up until 2 years ago it was an unabridged version. That older version has been replaced by the Miles version, however, which is not unabridged. I discovered this by accident when I ordered it for my classes--believing I was getting the old Scholastic version--and found that the version my students received bore little resemblance to the one I had. Hence my warning about this text. The Miles version is NOT the one Scholastic used to offer and it IS drastically altered."