I am reviewing all of my previous posts and I wrote this a long time ago and never published it. I liked what I had written, so I decided to preserve it.
I recently read the Wind in the Willows to my three and a half year old son one chapter at a time. The illustrations of this edition (by Inga Moore) are wonderful; they really capture an England of days gone by. Most pages have at least one small illustration, and there are quite a few two page paintings that I could melt away into. I think the illustrations in this copy are really what made it palatable to my young son; he loved it so much that he immediately wanted to begin reading it again the next day.
I have read some unflattering criticism of this story concerning the main characters being animals who interact with humans as though they are humans. I can see how this would affect the believability of the story if this were all there was to it, but I argue that the animals in this story are really not animals at all, but are actually animal characterizations of people. What I mean is that the characters have traits that are common both to the species depicted and can also be found in real people as well. For example, Toad is an aristocrat who is really a complete fool in so many ways. In the end, someone even calls him Toady. Something that struck me was that Toad can't swim, and at first I thought," what, he can't swim!? He's a Toad for goodness sake!" But really isn't a way to see the aristocracy as that they have forgotten how to do the most basic of things?