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- Grahame, Kenneth — The Wind in the Willows
I wonder where Grahame gets his title. He makes three or four references to the wind through the reeds or the grass, but never through any trees, much less willows!
People's reactions to this book have been amusing. Tania was absolutely delighted that I was reading this. The ladies at church were shocked, wondering why I was reading a children's book, as if it weren't high-brow enough for me.
I did, for the most part, enjoy The Wind in the Willows. Many chapters had me smiling or laughing out loud. Others seemed too heavy-handed with the overly idyllic prose or dated Victorian ideals. Some chapters, such as "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn," where Mole and Rat are visited by the demigod Pan while searching for their friend Otter's lost son, made me glow with warmth.
I was a bit distraught by how easily Toad avoided consequences. Yes, in the end he learns humility, but how many times did he have to be an egoistic ass first? Furthermore, he rarely, if at all, suffered any real consequences. It concerns me that some kid might read this and think it's okay to steal cars or horses as long as you then act dignified and contrite, or that might or money or gender makes right.
One last…criticism, I guess. This is obviously intended as a children's book. Thus, I was surprised by the occasionally advanced vocabulary. I encountered, if I recall correctly, three words I did not know. Two of them I was able to figure out from the Latin root and the context. I have a pretty broad vocabulary, so if I don't know the word, you can be certain your average kid won't. And I doubt most kids are motivated enough to look the words up. Really, "selvaged" isn't a word one is likely ever to use, so why bother? I felt a bit as though Grahame were simply trying to show off his intellect here and there, as if he was letting the Toad in him get the better of him, and think his editor could have been more like Badger in a couple of places.