In his Christmas sermon years ago our priest referred to "The Wind in the Willows by Graham Greene." At the end of the pew, a bookish friend, Gary Carter, leaned forward to look at me just as I leaned forward to look at him and for much of the rest of the service we had trouble stifling our giggles.
It is only now that I'm getting around to reading this children's classic (written by Kenneth Grahame) and once again I'm stifling giggles. Mr Toad of Toad Hall is an outrageous, short-cycle bipolar amphibian with an ego unrivaled in literature. His adventures include crashing numerous new cars, which he can afford to buy because he is a very wealthy toad indeed, stealing somebody else's car (twice), disguising himself as a washerwoman, stealing a horse, and eventually joining his friends, Badger, Water Rat, and Mole, to storm Toad Hall, which in his absence has been taken over by the animals from the Wild Wood, ferrets, weasels, and stoats, wicked creatures who have posted lookouts with guns to protect their newly-acquired fortress.
I haven't seen such a book, but I'll bet some scholar has written an academic interpretation of this 1908 story of revolution and restoration, of the foolishness of the governing class, and the importance of solidarity among the proletariat.
But it's much more fun to read it as the story of little animals who are sometimes wise and sometimes not, who work together to rescue one of their own despite his many and egregious character faults, and of course, who "mess about with boats."
Reposted from 22 Feb 2013