About the BookThe Wind in the Willows is one of the classics of children’s literature. Alternately slow moving and fast paced, it focuses on four anthropomorphised animal characters in a pastoral version of England. The novel is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie and is celebrated for its evocation of the nature of the Thames Valley.
It is springtime and curious Mole, bored with housework, leaves his molehill to explore. At the riverbank he meets Ratty, a laid-back water rat. The two quickly become intimate friends and Ratty introduces Mole to the exuberant Toad, a creature having some extravagant hobbies. When Toad becomes obsessed with motor cars, his excessively wild driving causes concern for Ratty and Mole, and they seek the help of wise Badger. Together they reprimand Toad, locking him in his bedroom at Toad Hall. Toad escapes, but his theft of a car lands him in court and he is sent to gaol.
However, Toad is in luck as the gaoler’s daughter takes pity on him and helps him to escape. He evades the police in a thrilling chase and then stumbles upon a barge woman who lets him hitch a ride. Toad rejoins Ratty and Mole and is horrified to discover that Toad Hall has been taken over by weasels, stoats and ferrets. Back at Badger’s house, the four friends hatch a plan to regain control of the Hall. A terrific battle ensues and, with the help of Mole’s newfound courage, the foursome triumph. Toad holds a banquet to mark his return, during which he behaves both quietly and humbly. He makes up for his earlier wrongdoings by seeking out and compensating those he has wronged. The four friends live happily ever after.
The Wind in the Willows has two separate actions going on. There are chapters dealing with the adventures of Toad, and chapters that explore human emotions like fear, awe, and nostalgia. The book is readable over and over again.