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The Wind in the Willows (1908)

by Kenneth Grahame

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Wind in the Willows (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
20,074301167 (4.1)7 / 866
The escapades of four animal friends who live along a river in the English countryside--Toad, Mole, Rat, and Badger.
  1. 125
    The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (atimco)
    atimco: Both Narnia and Willows feature anthropomorphized animal heroes who nevertheless retain the quirks of their species. The narrative voice is humorous and quintessentially British. Both stories also include spiritual/religious undertones. Willows predates Narnia by over forty years and was a big influence on Lewis (he even wrote a poem with some of Grahame's characters in it).… (more)
  2. 50
    The Complete Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem (PitcherBooks)
    PitcherBooks: Both are amusing, well-told and well-illustrated animal stories.
  3. 50
    Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (rakerman)
    rakerman: Both Swallows and Amazons and The Wind in the Willows are classic stories for children that involve boating and adventures.
  4. 50
    Mouse Guard, Volume 1: Fall 1152 by David Petersen (kristenn)
  5. 40
    The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban (kristenn)
  6. 40
    The Willows at Christmas by William Horwood (Osbaldistone)
  7. 30
    Toad Triumphant by William Horwood (Osbaldistone)
  8. 30
    The River Bank: A sequel to Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows by Kij Johnson (Cecrow)
  9. 52
    Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome (rakerman)
    rakerman: Although for an older audience than Wind in the Willows, Three Men in a Boat is a classic humourous story of misadventures with boats.
  10. 41
    The Willows in Winter by William Horwood (Osbaldistone)
  11. 31
    The Willows and Beyond by William Horwood (Osbaldistone)
  12. 20
    Curious Lives: Adventures from the Ferret Chronicles by Richard Bach (infiniteletters)
  13. 20
    Mr. Bliss by J. R. R. Tolkien (MissBrangwen)
    MissBrangwen: Motoring adventures!
  14. 10
    The Nannycatch Chronicles by James Heneghan (Bitter_Grace)
  15. 10
    A Fresh Wind in the Willows by Dixon Scott (bookel)
  16. 10
    Who was Changed and Who was Dead by Barbara Comyns (ToadsUSA)
    ToadsUSA: Both these stories create a strong nostalgia for me. There is a darkness or trouble that follows the characters but always warmth as well.
  17. 00
    Into the Happy Glade by Trevor Dudley-Smith (bookel)
  18. 00
    Deep Wood by Elleston Trevor (bookel)
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English (294)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (300)
Showing 1-5 of 294 (next | show all)
The classic 1908 children’s book is reimagined with all the leading characters as women. It works and it is just as charming as the original version. ( )
  etxgardener | May 13, 2022 |
NOTE: to view this review complete with pictures go to my blog, The Whole Book Experience, or click

I’ve read this personal fave from my youngster days many times and have a hard time resisting new editions, especially handmade private press editions that feature one of my favorite illustrators. As they say, with every re-read of a book you pick up new impressions and nuances, especially if the allusions and lessons are buried in it by crafty and skilled writers, and even more so when you read at different times and situations in your life. This read three things stuck out at me: one in the Mr. Badger chapter and one in The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and one in Toad’s Adventures.

The nuance I didn’t notice before regarding the Mr. Badger chapter was tucked away at the end when he was giving Mole a tour of his “domestic architecture.” I don’t remember remarking the bit about the Wild Wood, and Badger’s spacious abode, being reclaimed from a city of men whose population had mysteriously disappeared.

'But what became of them all?' asked the Mole.
'Who can tell?' said the Badger. 'People come --they stay for a while, they flourish, they build -- and they go. It is their way. But we remain. There were badgers here, I've been told, long before that same city ever came to be. And now there are badgers here again. We are an enduring lot, and we may move out for a time, but we wait, and are patient, and back we come. And so it will ever be.'

A bit eerie for this child of the ‘60s who recently realized his fear of nuclear war had died down a bit with the end of the old cold war only to be reawakened by the Ukrainian catastrophe and political comedy of errors on all sides. I guess I’ll be happy if the badgers at least get a benefit from the follies of man once their cities become reforested.

The second item was how much more I appreciated The Piper at the Gates of Dawn after hearing and loving how Mike Scott reads part of it on the 2019 Waterboys album Where the Action Is. No surprise, of course, as I also love the reading Tomás McKeown and they did of Yeat’s 1886 poem The Stolen Child on the 1988 Fisherman’s Blues album. The amazing illustration Zimakov did for the chapter is also one of my favorite illustrations in the book.

And the final thing was the food references. How did I miss this before? Or am I just more into food after eating at home much more through two years of pandemic? There’s Ratty and Mole’s picnic near the beginning:

'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater--'
'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstasies: 'This is too much!'

There is so much in the picnic basket that there isn’t even room for punctuation in the description.

And then the ‘Bubble and Squeak’ reference which sent me to my Larousse Gastronomique to find out what it was. I always go there first for food. I mean, it’s a real book I have to open. But no luck so I had to g**gle it. Looks delicious. Now I’m going to have to make some to try it.

In his introduction, Peter Hunt tells us that The Wind in the Willows is often thought of as one of the most elusive books in world literature.

The Wind in the Willows, it is often said, is one of the most elusive books in world literature: it is not what it seems to be.

'But what does it seem to be? A children's book about talking animals who lead an idyllic rural life in a lost Arcadian England? A farce about Mr. Toad, a rebellious buffoon, who steals cars and escapes from jail? In the collective cultural memory, it seems to be a whimsical, comforting sort of book; from a female--and a gay--perspective, it is an almost exclusively male pipe-dream.'

Certainly, it’s hard to describe. I agree it is definitely not a children’s book, except in that great sense of teaching stories in oral traditions where everyone gets out of the story what makes sense for their level. It certainly doesn’t pass the Bechdel test but I think there is still something there for non-cis-male readers.

Hunt also makes the case that Grahame found out that “...writing fantasy presents a very tempting opportunity for personal satire and in-jokes.” And I’m a sucker for satire, figuring out in-jokes, and puns.

Often the best part of reading The Wind in the Willows for me is the central character of the river. I’m a water person, having grown up a Navy brat always on the coast, and with my heartland in the Maryland waterways of my beloved Chesapeake Bay. With a brief land-locked exception for university, I’ve always lived near water or the coast. I love when the physical world is treated like the character it is and not just a “resource” to be exploited. Maybe it is the pagan in me, which wraps back around to my enjoyment of the Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

"...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."

'I don't know that I think so very much of that little song, Rat,' observed the Mole cautiously. He was no poet himself and didn't care who knew it; and he had a candid nature.
'Nor don't the ducks neither,' replied the Rat cheerfully. 'They say, "Why can't fellows be allowed to do what they like when they like and as they like, instead of other fellows sitting on banks and watching them all the time and making remarks and poetry and things about them? What nonsense it all is!" That's what the ducks say.'

"...while the Otter and the Rat, their heads together, eagerly talked river-shop, which is long shop and talk that is endless, running on like the babbling river itself."

And there’s not many animals more magical for me than otters, especially otters and badgers. I’ve seen a good many sea otters off the coast of Cambria California but have only seen river otters twice in my lifetime and count myself lucky for that being a lifelong suburbanite. I might have caught a glimpse of a badger once but I’ll never know for sure.

I love when the physical world is treated like the character it is and not just a “resource” to be exploited. Maybe it is the pagan in me, which wraps back around to my enjoyment of the Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

And my new saying whenever the world seems out of control?

'They are going it, the weasels!'

It works in so many situations in our mad world.

This is my first book from Mad Parrot Press’ team of Chad Pastotnik and Jim Dissette but I have admired many of their books from afar (looking at you Heart of Darkness) and been lucky enough to review Moon as Bright as Water from their Chester River Press imprint. This Mad Parrot edition is quite a beauty. It’s my favorite edition of The Wind in the Willows and would definitely be my ‘Desert Island’ book edition of this title (books seem much more logical on a desert island than the usual lists of ‘Desert Island Discs’ one sees. How am I going to actually play my Blonde on Blonde record on a desert isle? But I probably could read for as long as I survived…).

I’ve always been a fan of Vladimir Zimakov’s work, so this book had me at ‘hello’. Once I heard he was doing the illustrations for the book from Chad back in the planning stages, I hoped I would be able to acquire a copy. Zimakov’s style and artistry is perfect for book illustrations: classical lines with touch of the punk attitude that comes through even clearer in his work with musicians like Amanda Palmer. That style works especially well for this book. He is also a delightful person to talk to about books, art, music, and literally anything, as you will find out if you ever have the pleasure to meet him at his table at CODEX or elsewhere. I’m always happy to have any of his art in my books or on a dustjacket but this book is a treasure trove of Zimakov! Check the Mad Parrot website if you want to see more of his illustrations for the book above and beyond what I’ve included here, and of course you can see more of Zimakov’s work for other projects at his website.

If you’ve been paying attention to all the supply chain issues throughout the world, and you’re a paper lover like me, you might know that the papers used for books like this are also suffering. In fact, the Zerkall mill that has been a source of paper for many fine- and private-press books is reportedly shutting down. Thank goodness we have Papeterie Saint-Armand in Quebec for our North American presses. Chad worked with the papermaker for the special Canal paper used in the book. And it is special. I really like that the paper is the same for both the text and the illustrations as it makes the book quite easy and enjoyable to read. The printing is exceptional and finds just the right balance in the impression: not so heavy as to be annoying and not “just a kiss” but the ability to feel the impression on the page and also to see just a hint of the impression on the other side of the page in just the right indirect light. I tried to capture Badger’s head peeking out above the text but just couldn’t do it justice in the photo. Again, it’s all about the light and I just can’t get my camera to behave like my eye. Go figure.

The page size is large: 27 x 61cm. There is a lot of text on a given page but the Centaur typeface reads well and the layout of so much text on the page did not overwhelm this reader at all. Apparently, the page size also dictated using photopolymer plates instead of linotype as there was no room in the pressroom to store that much type. And the printing is quite uniform given the variations in humidity Pastotnik had to put up with in printing the sheets damp over the 6 months of printing. There were also challenges with some paper weight variance that sounded a bit more than usual due to the aforementioned supply chain issues at the mill. Quite remarkable given that the printing was done by hand one sheet, one color at a time on a Vandercook proof press.
The binding is quite fitting for Grahame’s book: the green quarter leather with an orange book cloth is suitably rustic for the story. You can imagine mole smartly dressed in exactly those same colors. The cover features a leather inlay of one the illustrations. And the shiny title stamp along the spine is a nice touch as well.
As I alluded to before, this might be the penultimate edition of The Wind in the Willows, so you better hurry if you want one. There are only a couple handfuls left.

AVAILABILITY: As of this writing, I believe there are 10 or so copies of the standard edition available from the press. All of the special edition has been sold out but I would sure like to see one of those beauties. Hopefully some photos will be posted to their website or their social media feed.

This is one of a handful of favorite books that I have multiple fine or private press editions. I reviewed the Folio Society limited edition here a decade ago and I’ll probably review the new Hand & Eye Letterpress standard edition as well once I am ready for another reread of The Wind in the Willows.

For lovers of The Wind in the Willows, there is what looks to be a nice trade edition from French publisher Caudette with beautiful traditional illustrations by Chris Dunn. It came out in French and then they did a Kickstarter for an English edition that ends on 5/1/2022, after which I expect one will be able to order either edition directly from the publisher. I might go in for the French edition just to use a story I know so well to help improve my high-school-back-of-the-class-I’m-only-here-to-have-a-better-chance-of-getting-into-university reading of French.
  jveezer | Apr 27, 2022 |
What a treat. Why did I wait until my advanced age to read it. ( )
  Steve38 | Apr 17, 2022 |
A fun, and whimsical tale great for animals lovers. ( )
  Bookslesstravelled | Apr 15, 2022 |
I read this book this year and had never read it previously. I had heard allusions to homosexual overtones, and the author Kenneth Grahame seems to have leanings in that direction from what I could find on his life and lifestyle. And although I could see how that this impression could be given, I overall thought
A) who is this exactly written for because the language and references seemed decidedly adult and,
B) this is a really lovely guidebook on how friends and frienships change and that people can always surprise you - sometimes in a good way and sometimes badly. ( )
  ColleenLVE | Apr 13, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 294 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (228 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kenneth Grahameprimary authorall editionscalculated
Baker-Smith, GrahameIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barnhart, NancyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barrett, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Begin, Mary JaneIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bennett, AlanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Benson, PatrickIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Biro, ValIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bottema, TjeerdIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bransom, PaulIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brennan, KristaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Briers, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burningham, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clark, Roberta CarterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cloke, ReneIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Collins, TonyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cosham, RalphNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cox, PaulIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cuffari, DickIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Daily, DonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ellman, MaryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foreman, MichaelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Forrester, KateCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frasier, ShellyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibson, FloNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hague, MichaelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hodges, Margaretsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hordern, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ingpen, RobertIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, RichardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, TerryNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kincaid, EricIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kramer, DaveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, Robert J.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leger, Elkesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lynch, JamesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maguire, GregoryForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKowen, ScottIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Milne, A. A.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, IngaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morrill, LesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moss, JoanneIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Harris, Pixiesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Patience, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Percy, GrahamIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinto, RalphIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Price, NickIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rackham, ArthurIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rice, LuanneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robertson, W. GrahamIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sale, RogerIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saxon, JamesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shepard, Ernest H.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Mark F.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, David K.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sumpter, RachellCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Todd, JustinIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tsao, AlexIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tudor, TashaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Van Sandwyk, CharlesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, HelenIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woods, MaryNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Worsley, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, CliffIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yolen, JaneAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
This edition, with its illustrations, is dedicated to the illustrator's grandson.
For Nikhil.
The illustrator wishes to dedicate the artwork in this edition to his grandmother, Violet King.
First words
The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home.
"Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
"After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working."
'Hang spring-cleaning!'
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Before combining, please ensure that you are NOT combining an abridgment, an adaptation, a junior edition or a selection from the story with the complete Wind in the Willows.

The first Dutch edition does not carry the title De wind in de wilgen, but is called De avonturen van Mr. Mol
Several wrong covers are displayed in this work, which by the title should be a Great Illustrated Classic.
The Usborne edition is complete and unabridged and can be combined with the main title.
This is the Ladybird Spanish edition, adapted by Antonia Maria Martel.
The text of 'Steam in the Willows' is the same as 'The Wind in the Willows.' The illustrator begs to stand apart because of her visual re-interpretations.
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

The escapades of four animal friends who live along a river in the English countryside--Toad, Mole, Rat, and Badger.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Mole, Water Rat, Badger, and the mischievous Toad live a quiet life on banks of the River Thames with the rest of their animal friends. But Toad tends to get into trouble, and his passion for cars eventually results in his being caught and kept a helpless prisoner in the remotest dungeon of the best-guarded castle in all the land. Dressed as a washerwoman—and with some help from his friends—Toad manages to escape the castle and begins his journey home to Toad Hall. Originally published in 1908.
Haiku summary
Mole and Rat are chums,
Badger is a reclusive,
Toad causes trouble.

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Penguin Australia

5 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0143039091, 014132113X, 0141808349, 0141329823, 0143106643

Candlewick Press

An edition of this book was published by Candlewick Press.

» Publisher information page

Hachette Book Group

An edition of this book was published by Hachette Book Group.

» Publisher information page

Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100739, 1400108489

Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909676624, 1909676616


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