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The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, illustrated by David Roberts, 249 pp, RL 5

If you didn't read my long, adulatory review of The Wind in the Willows, written by Kenneth Grahame and adapted and illustrated by Inga Moore, then you need to know that I am an enormous fan of this book and that my childhood copy had the Ernest H. Shepherd illustrations which I am immensely fond of. However, I am not a strict traditionalist and, recognizing that there are aspects of the original classic that can be adapted in an effort to reach a new and hopefully wider audience, I think Moore's adaptation of Grahame's novel is wonderful. I also think Moore's illustrations are absolutely charming. I love it so much that the only way I would even consider reviewing another adaptation of The Wind in the Willows is with the right illustrator and David Roberts (scroll to the bottom for my reviews of his picture books) is EXACTLY that! Not just because I am a huge fan of his illustration style, but because I feel like the tone and style of his work is exactly what's needed to make this classic appealing to contemporary children and creating a new generation of fans.

Forsaking the traditional, classic English naturalism style that most illustrators of The Wind in the Willows favor, Roberts shakes up the color palette and employs his fantastic use of patterns that echoes the paintings of Gustav Klimt and the Art Deco style. His characters are more humorous in appearance and, to a degree, more cartoonish, which is something that I think will definitely draw in new young readers to this. While The Wind in the Willows has some serious, poignant underlying themes, there is a lot of absurdity, ridiculousness and brio in the novel and that comes out in Roberts's illustrations in a way that does not make light of the other themes in the book at all, themes that are often abandoned in other (animated) versions. And, like most other adaptations of The Wind in the Willows, Roberts eliminated the chapter, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn," explaining, "Rather than relating the ongoing adventures of Ratty, Mole, Toad, Badger and others, the chapter pauses the action and is largely about the god Pan from Greek mythology. Although the chapter is not included, Pan himself is present in this book: he appears fleetingly throughout." I love that Roberts has found a way to honor the chapter he cut (which is one that I love but understand why it gets cut) and I had a great time looking for Pan in the illustrations. You can find Pan peeking out from the wraparound illustration on the book jacket (see above) and on a Tiffany lamp in Toad Hall, among other wonderful places. But, enough of my blathering, the best way to appreciate David Roberts's The Wind in the Willows is to enjoy his illustrations!

O my, how cold the water was, and O, how very wet it felt. How it sang in his ears as he went down, down, down!
Mole rows the boat...

When they got home, Rat made a bright fire in the parlour, and planted the Mole in an arm-chair in front of it
Recovering at Ratty's

Toad is rather rich, you know, and this is really one of the nicest houses in these parts, though we never admit that to Toad!
Rowing to Toad Hall

He formed the resolution to go out by himself  and explore the Wild Wood, and perhaps strike up an acquaintance with Mr. Badger
Heading into the Wild Wood

The Water Rat was restless, and he did not exactly know why.
Wayfarers All

"The hour has come!" said the Badger at last with great solemnity.
Toad needs an intervention...

The Badger drew himself up, took grip of his stick with both paws, glanced round at his comrades, and cried:
"The hour has come! Follow me!"
The Return of Ulysses

The good old Mole is now sitting in the blue boudoir, filling up plain, simple invitation cards.
Preparing to celebrate reclaiming Toad Hall!

I wish I had more images of Toad as illustrated by Roberts, but there are a few to enjoy below...

Shepherd, Rackham and Moore's editions of The Wind in the Willows:

adapted and illustrated by Inga Moore

More picture books illustrated by the fantastic David Roberts and links to my reviews!


Brenda said…
I always love the books you pick, the illustrations are gorgeous. Do you have a background in art, or maybe it's just wonderful taste.
Tanya said…
Brenda - Thanks!! I am an art school dropout, although I'm not sure that could be called a background in art... Glad you enjoy!

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