I have finally made an ounce of progress in my Summer Reading List (before I finish this list, it will be the end of yet another Summer!) by finishing The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame. For being a children's book, it took an exorbitantly long time to read! But I think being a children's book is precisely why. I just could not get into it! And it made me sad to think that the childlike part of me is gone that may have appreciated this more and perhaps even my imagination has diminished a little.
For example, why are these animals living alongside humans? At first I thought maybe it was a world of just talking animals, Narnia-esque, if you will. And that would be OK. But then the animals started interacting with the humans. First it was just the animals peering in the windows of a human household. Even this was OK because I thought maybe the book was about the animal world, one that we humans would not normally be able to be a part of, if it were not for this book. But then the animals and humans started talking with each other! So now the animals were apparently speaking English, and the humans did not find this odd at all! But then, when Toad was sneaking out of prison, he dressed in a washerwoman's clothes in order to get out undetected, so we are led to believe that not only can the animals talk and are in fact speaking English, but they also are large enough to fit into a woman's clothes, and pass easily as a woman! This was more than I could take!
Why would it have been easier to imagine them living in their own world and speaking some sort of universal animal language and living in cute little homes along the river, rather than large English-speaking, human-interacting animals? I have no idea. Maybe because the former is exactly how I actually like to picture animals? And none of these intelligent species have ever tried to interact with me!
The book in itself probably would make a sweet children's book, although I'm not even sure if today's children would have the patience to wade through it, with the language being quite old-fashioned and the stories rather slow. It has one overriding tale - Toad, his fascination with cars, eventual arrest, and then aforementioned escape, as well as shorter stories interspersed throughout starring Mole, Otter, Badger, and Water-Rat. (Another point: why does it seem like there is only one of each species? Why couldn't they at least have been given a name?)
Overall, I wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't. I don't blame the book though (although there were many times when I just wanted to slap Mole for being a whiny baby). I think it's just me, growing up. I guess it's about time, too. I am almost 30.