Inspired by correspondence from Wind in the Willow‘s author Kenneth Grahame to his young son, award-winning illustrator Michael Foreman took up paint and brush to follow Mole, Ratty, Mr. Badger, and Toad through another edition of this well-loved kids classic.
Grahame’s time-honored story, an adventure-filled idyll that meanders across a lovingly described English countryside, cemented its status as a masterpiece generations ago. But this newest edition adds some noteworthy extras: the unabridged text includes two chapters that don’t appear in some modern versions (“The Pipers at the Gates of Dawn” and “Wayfarers All”), and the book closes with reproductions of two of Grahame’s actual letters to his son Alistair (“My darling Mouse”) in 1907, written on ornate, old-timey stationery from two Cornwall hotels and recounting one of Toad’s first adventures (which Toad fans will recognize as the train-assisted escape of a certain “washerwoman”).
These inclusions alone might merit a new edition, but Foreman’s illustrations stand shoulder to shoulder with those of previous Winds artists (among them Ernest Shepard, the original illustrator, and Arthur Rackham, both of whom Foreman modestly stands “in awe” of). The lively, full-color illustrations appear generously throughout the book, as they convincingly capture both the story’s small moments (like the washerwoman’s weeping, for one) and more explosive events (like the storming of Toad Hall). (All ages) –Paul Hughes
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