The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Where did I get this book and how many pages?
I read this book on Oyster, where it is listed as having 176 print pages. I like the addition of the number of print pages on oyster. While I know that technically it would very from different page sizes, the inclusion of illustrations, or any number of other differences, I can pretend it is a standard size.
Have I read this book before?
No. Never even crossed my mind.
What do I already know?
There is a Disney movie based on this book and sharing a name. There are talking animals, most notably Mr. Toad, who would go on to inspire Mr. Toads Wild Ride at Disneyland. I know I have seen the movie, but all I really remember is a vague image of a toad in a waistcoat in the dirt saying in an awed voice, “A motorcar.”
What do I think now?
This is an odd book for children. I know it was written in 1900, which would make some of the standard ‘kids book’ things different than they are now, but still. Mr. Toad is a horrible person. Seriously. He is in seven car accidents, all totaling his cars, before he is put on house arrest by his friends as they attempt to conduct an intervention. Then he breaks out, steals a car, wreaks the car and is sent to jail for 20 years. No worries though children, he is going to break out and along the way he will continue to insult people and cause large amounts of damage to personal property. I mean, really, Mr. Toad is horrible. I get that I am supposed to root for him, but I don’t know why.
The story of Mr. Toad, while odd is at least engaging. The rest of the book is filled with random, slow, and unclear moments that I am not sure what they are doing. Mr. Rat, Mr. Mole, and Mr. Badger are all much kinder characters, but their weird interspecies love for each other is slightly confusing and provides little to no action along the way.
Should you read this book before you die?
I am honestly not sure why this book is on the list. It is far from the best children’s book I have ever read. It is not excessively good writing or storytelling. For the most part, I have thus far been able to pull one thing from each story that allowed me to pinpoint why it was on this list; some it is all good, once it was the ending, another time it was writing itself. This story made me wonder why it was on the list, but try as I might, I have yet to find a copy of this list that includes any explanation as to why each individual book was selected. So maybe that is the reason to read this book before you die; to try to find something that stands out and makes this book worthy of the list.
My next book was going to be The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope, however, I decided to put that one off for a couple of weeks. The reading of the book was going to fall during holiday travel, and it was a much longer book than I remembered it to be. Instead, I will move on to Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway followed by Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
Happy Reading everyone!