The Wind in the Willows

Given that Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows is 100 years old this year, I suspect many youngsters only know it, if they know it at all, as a ride at Disneyworld, instead of the classic children’s book it’s reported to be. I’d never read it before, myself, so I appreciated the chance to learn about the adventures of these woodland creatures, especially with such lovely pictures.

The Wind in the Willows cover
The Wind in the Willows
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Papercutz has chosen this adaptation by Michel Plessix (originally published in English in 1997) to relaunch the long-running Classics Illustrated name-brand. This is part of the Deluxe line, which means it’s available in both hardback and softcover, and the stories are longer.

The tales here are episodic, as the animals have adventures or take trips. As the book opens, Mole is fed up with his spring cleaning, so he decides to skip it. He bumps into Water Rat, and the two of them go boating and have a picnic on the river. It’s a charming portrait of a bygone age, where animals talk without incessant wisecracks and the most modern technology available is the newly introduced motorcar, a particular craze of Toad’s.

The scenery is, as I mentioned, very attractive, accompanied by poetic narration. The only element that rang false to me is the design of Rat, who looks like a Disney rabbit. He doesn’t really match the quiet Mole, which glasses perched on the end of his long pointy nose, or Lord Toad, who reminds me of Beatrix Potter’s Jeremy Fisher. Still, I got over it quick enough, seduced by the portraits of the changing seasons and the comfort of a simple meal with friends.

There’s lots of humor, too, as the bumbling, full of himself Toad winds up in prison, which leads to squatters almost taking over his baronial home. That’s the key behind most of these stories, a love of home and hearth made comfortable for friendly hospitality. The book, if read with the same care with which it was created, will create an appreciation of nature and a relaxed feel that’s quite refreshing.

(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)


5 Responses to “The Wind in the Willows”

  1. Tony Says:

    Don’t you mean “originally published in French in 1997″?

    In English, it was originally published in 2005, in its original size and format, unlike Papercutz miniature edition:

    http://www.cinebook.co.uk/catalogue~cat~A-008-028B.asp

  2. Johanna Says:

    According to online sources, NBM originally published the translated adaptation in four volumes beginning in 1997. See, for example, here or here.

  3. Tony Says:

    D’oh! I had no idea about that.

  4. Johanna Says:

    It made sense to me because NBM and Papercutz have some owners in common, I think.

  5. Great Expectations » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] wrote and drew the Treasury of Victorian Murder series. The other Classics Illustrated relaunch was The Wind in the Willows, which kicked off the Deluxe line. The Deluxe Classics Illustrated books are available in either […]




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