The Wind in the Willows \nKenneth Grahame \nPublished by Wordsworth Editions Ltd \nISBN 9781853261220 Hearing the call of spring, Mole abandons work in his underground burrow and enters a world teeming with life. He soon befriends Rat, a river-dweller skilled with boats. The companions venture around the countryside and meet a host of other creatures including the kind but severe Badger and the irrepressible, roguish Toad. As the seasons turn, Mole braves one challenge after another. He journeys through the Wild Wood, joins the search for baby otter Portly, and eventually battles weasels and stoats for Toad Hall. The Wind in the Willows is a tale of enduring characters and themes. For a novel that began as bedtime stories for Kenneth Grahame's son, it has incredible depth. It holds appeal for adults and children alike. Toad is a wealthy creature moving from one obsession to the next, with often hilarious results. He constantly acts to further his fickle interests, even at others' expense. The theme of desire is continuously explored in the novel. Toad's misadventures serve as a warning because his longing cannot be fulfilled by his new toys. Meanwhile, Mole is concerned with home and friendship. The characters discover an underlying tension between transience and their quest for excitement or comfort. At the core of the tale is the dynamic countryside setting, and Grahame's writing is at its best when he celebrates the beauty of nature. The Wind in the Willows is, as the author writes, a book 'for those who keep the spirit of youth alive in them; of life, sunshine, running water, woodlands, dusty roads, winter firesides'. With current environmental concerns, nothing could be more relevant. Grahame's classic deserves attention from today's readers. Try to get an edition with illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard, who also illustrated the original Winnie the Pooh tales. The classic sketches are the perfect complement to Grahame's powerful prose.