Skip to main content

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!

Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…