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Friday, 27 April 2012

W is for Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame


Was there ever a moment when young, a moment when you heard a story as if for the very first time and your love of stories began? My moment was in a primary school when I was about seven and I heard a teacher read the beginning sentences of the Wind in the Willows, and those words have stayed with me all my life and led to a life long love of children's literature.... those magical words of Mole as he scrabbles and scrouges, and scrabbles and scrouges up, up, up! through the soil to emerge POP into the sunshine of the meadow and says hang spring cleaning! 

At the start of the book, it is spring time: the weather is fine, and good-natured Mole loses patience with spring cleaning. He flees his underground home, heading up to take in the air. He ends up at the river, which he has never seen before. Here he meets Ratty (a water rat), who at this time of year spends all his days in, on and close by the river. Rat takes Mole for a ride in his rowing boat. They get along well and spend many more days boating, with Rat teaching Mole the ways of the river.
One summer day shortly thereafter, Rat and Mole find themselves near the grand Toad Hall and pay a visit to Toad. Toad is rich (having inherited wealth from his father): jovial, friendly and kind-hearted but aimless and conceited, he regularly becomes obsessed with current fads, only to abandon them as quickly as he took them up. Having only recently given up boating, Toad's current craze is his horse-drawn caravan. In fact, he is about to go on a trip, and persuades the reluctant Rat and willing Mole to join him. The following day (after Toad has already tired of the realities of camp life and sleeps-in to avoid chores), a passing motor car scares the horse, causing the caravan to overturn into a ditch.....
Mole wants to meet the respected but elusive Badger, who lives deep in the Wild Wood, but Rat - knowing that Badger does not appreciate visits - refuses to take him, telling Mole to be patient and wait and Badger will pay them a visit himself. Nevertheless, on a snowy winter's day, whilst the seasonally somnolent Ratty dozes unaware, Mole impulsively goes to the Wild Wood to explore, hoping to meet Badger. He gets lost in the woods, sees many "evil faces" among the wood's less-welcoming denizens, succumbs to fright and panic and hides, trying to stay warm, amongst the sheltering roots of a tree. Rat, upon awakening and finding Mole gone, guesses his mission from the direction of Mole's tracks and, equipping himself with a pistol and a stout stick, goes in search, finding him as snow begins to fall in earnest. Attempting to find their way home, Rat and Mole quite literally stumble across Badger's home — Mole barks his shin upon the boot scraper on Badger's doorstep. Rat finds it and a doormat, knowing they are an obvious sign of hope, but Mole thinks Rat has gone crazy, only to believe him when the digging reveals a door. Badger - en-route to bed in his dressing-gown and slippers - nonetheless warmly welcomes Rat and Mole to his large and cosy underground home and hastens to give them hot food and dry clothes.... 

10 comments:

klahanie said...

Dear Carole,
Oh wow, one of my all time favourite stories and just a magical choice for your letter "W".
Hugs your way, Gary :)

Carole Anne Carr said...

Hugs back, Gary, it is a magical story isn't it. x

writingstraight.com said...

So sweet!Love your blog!

Carole Anne Carr said...

So pleased you like my blog, Holly.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Carole .. it's a great book isn't it and story line - fascinating to read how things were in the countryside. I played Ratty at school! Not very well .. as I really was not comfortable on stage!!

Still love reading the book though.

Cheers Hilary

Carole Anne Carr said...

Good for you, Hilary! Interesting that you were chosen to be the strong character Ratty. I put on a production of the play and had some wonderful primary children who acted their socks off!

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Carole Ann -- this post was a wonderful refresher course for me. I used to read this book to my children when they were young and then I put it on the shelf to linger in dust. I am going to brush off the dust and read it for my self alone -- one doesn't need to be a child to enjoy such fine writing. -- barbara

Carole Anne Carr said...

Hi Barbara, no we don't need an excuse to read children's books, do we. Many adults come to my book signings and when I say who is the book for they say 'myself'.:0)

Deniz Bevan said...

I love this book. Especially that line about messing about in boats. Poop-poop!

Carole Anne Carr said...

Yes, Deniz, I love the poop poop bit too, made me laugh a great deal when I read it as a child.

 
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