Tuesday, April 17, 2007

"Oh, hang spring cleaning!"

"Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing."

How many children's books written today start out like that? You'll find this on the very first page of The Wind in the Willows, first published in 1908 by Kenneth Grahame. It's a lovely book, but not exactly a rip-roaring adventure, or a book whose heroes struggle with huge problems or fight against an evil galactic empire. Mole and Rat become friends, as Mole learns to appreciate a new life above ground. Mole and Rat get lost in a snowy woods, and are rescued by the formidable but kindly Mr. Badger. Toad, all money and no brains, has a new and ridiculous hobby every few weeks. There are beautiful scenes describing nature in summertime, and beautiful scenes describing a cozy life at home, with little mouse children singing Christmas carols and having mulled ale afterwards. If you'd like a book to really relax with, this classic from another era -- almost another world -- may be for you.

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