The Wind in the Willows - Thao Lam
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The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows

My internet has been down for the last two weeks. It’s a long and frustrating story in which I spent my Christmas and New Year’s holiday with tech support. Needless to say there will be a slight delay with my B is for Books posts. I won’t lie; I spent the first couple of days panicking. By day three I gave in and accepted that life as I know it was over. When I was done moping I discovered a whole new lifestyle! I spent a lot of time playing board games and reading. Keep reading…

The Wind in the Willow started off as bedtime stories that Kenneth Grahame told to his son. Later when his son went off to school, Graham would send the stories in letters. Graham’s classic book was first published in 1908. It’s a story about a cast of animal characters that live on the banks of the River Thames. Mole, Water Rat, Badger, and the mischievous Toad find themselves in many predicaments and daffy adventures. There are many illustrated versions of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, but hands down Robert Ingpen’s is the best.

I tried reading The Wind in the Willows years ago but didn’t get far. The story is slow moving and the language is old fashioned, which takes forever for me to wrap my head around. Robert Ingpen’s illustrated version was a great motivator for me to start reading The Wind in the Willows again. The illustrations enticed me to read on. I kept looking ahead to see what illustration would be revealed on the next page and I was never disappointed! Starting with the end pages filled with delicate pencil sketches and making my way through the book, there is plenty of art to keep me going. Each drawing is made up of fine pen strokes that look like little scratches layered on top of each other to build form, shape and texture.

The Wind in the Willows, a children’s book review by Thao Lam

Author Kenneth Grahame

(March 8th, 1859 to July 6th, 1932)

Kenneth Grahame’s life reads like a tragic novel. Born on March 8th, 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland, Grahame lost his mother at the age of 5. His father, who had a drinking problem, sent Grahame and his three siblings to live with their grandmother in the village of Cookham Dene, Berkshire. Her house and its large garden by the River Thames provided the background of The Wind in the Willows.

Kenneth Grahame was an academic and had dreams of going to Oxford but his family nixed the idea – a university education was a waste of time. Instead, they found him a job as a clerk in the Bank of England. While working at the bank Grahame got shot at by a disgruntle patron but was extremely lucky when all three shots missed. Grahame retired shortly after the horrifying incident and moved to the countryside.

Married late in life, Grahame had only one son. His son Alastair was born with one eye and plagued with health problems throughout his life. Shortly before his 20th birthday, while an undergraduate at Oxford, Alastair committed suicide on a railway track. Kenneth Grahame’s life was not an easy one but it gave him plenty to draw from when he wrote his stories.


Illustrator Robert Ingpen

Australian born artist Robert Ingpen was the first of his countrymen to win the Hans Christian Andersen Award. The Hans Christian Andresen Award is the highest international recognition any author or illustrator can receive in the field of Children’s books.

Robert Ingpen studied art and illustration at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. His ability to capture detail and infuse life into his drawings caught the attention of The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). He was appointed as an artist to interpret and communicate results of scientific research. He began freelancing as an author, designer, and illustrator in 1968.

Throughout his life Ingpen has been involved in a number of conservation and environmental projects. As one of the founders of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Robert Ignpen lends his skills as an artist and gives a considerable amount of his time to saving the environment.


Publisher Palazzo Editions; First Edition edition (April 28, 2008)

ISBN-10 0955304636

ISBN-13 978-0955304637