________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 5 . . . . October 29, 1999

cover The Wind in the Willows: The Classic Edition.

Kenneth Grahame. Illustrated by E. H. Shepard.
London, UK: Methuen Children's Books (Distributed in Canada by McClelland & Stewart Inc.), 1998.
255 pp., cloth, $45.00.
ISBN 0-416-19568-7.

Subject Headings:
Animals-Juvenile fiction.
Friendship-Juvenile fiction.
Juvenile fiction.

All grades / All ages.
Review by Valerie Nielsen.

**** /4

image To celebrate the 90th birthday of the publication of this well-loved tale, Methuen has brought out a handsome gift edition of The Wind in the Willows. This elegant volume features new reproductions of E. H. Shepard's original coloured artwork, some of his early sketches, photographs of the author and an introduction by well-known writer and broadcaster Brian Sibley. Sibley's introduction provides the reader with fascinating insights into the life of Kenneth Grahame and the beginnings of his story about those delightful riverside characters - Ratty, Mole, Badger and the outrageous Mr. Toad. In his introduction, Sibley quotes Kenneth Graham: "For every honest reader, there exist some half-dozen honest books, which he re-reads at regular intervals of six months or thereabouts. Whatever the demands on him . . . for these he somehow generally manages to find time." Sibley counts himself as an honest reader and finds The Wind in the Willows just such a book. Perhaps it is too much to hope, in these frantically busy times, that parents and teachers might manage to find time to enjoy The Wind in the Willows with their children and students. Interwoven as the book is with beautifully lyrical passages, lovable characters and comic escapades, it does not lend itself to a quick reading, either aloud or independently. It is a book to be savored, best read aloud by an adult who loved it as a child. It will be a rare young person these days who, reading the book independently, falls under the spell of Grahame's riverside characters and their adventures; however to hear The Wind in the Willows read aloud and to be able to pore over E. H. Shepard's wonderful illustrations (completed some twenty years after the original publication of Grahame's classic in 1908) would be a priceless gift for any child. For the purpose of such a gift, whether to an individual child or a school library, this beautiful classic edition of The Wind in the Willows is perfect. Attractive as the book is, however, its cost is likely to put it out of the reach of school library collections, particularly those which already have a Shepard-illustrated copy on their shelves.

Recommended for optional purchase.

Valerie Nielsen is a retired teacher-librarian living in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364