The Wind in the Willows: Candlewick Illustrated Classic
written by Kenneth Grahame, illustrated and edited by Inga Moore
(Candlewick Press, 2009, 184 pages)
Kenneth’s Grahame’s classic The Wind in the Willows is a set of stories that cries out to be illustrated, and many artists have obliged. Inga Moore’s artwork makes a wonderful companion to Grahame’s verbal depictions of the natural beauty of an English riverbank, the homey comfort of a Mole’s tunnel, and the grandeur of Toad Hall. The animals and the settings in which they live and move reveal distinctively English attitudes towards comfort, nature, hardship, and privilege. Moore’s rendering of the riverbank is both beautiful and wild, really giving a sense for why Ratty so loves “messing about in boats.” Mr. Toad’s ancestral home, Toad Hall, looks as though it could be a portrait of a real English manor house, complete with pristine gardens and ivy covered walls. In the second half of the book, as Mr. Toad goes out on his adventures (stealing motor cars and horses, escaping from prison, and jumping from moving trains) there is a wonderful and comic sense of movement to the illustrations.
This is an abridgment of Grahame’s book, and as abridgments go I think Moore is pretty successful. I would have loved to see how she treated some of the chapters that were excluded. There was a time or two when choppy transitions or gaps in the story resulted from abridgement within chapters. However, on the whole Moore’s selections are well chosen.