We follow Mole as he breaks out of his hole and into Spring. He quickly meets the Water Rat at the river’s edge and they form a fast friendship, boating and picnicking. Their world is peopled with the Otter, Toad, and Badger, as well as various families of field mice.
Toad, who fancies his wealth to equate with greatness, becomes obsessed with motor cars and quickly becomes the bane of the local roads. His driving is absolutely terrible, but his love of automotives is unquenchable. He no sooner wrecks a car then a new one arrives. Finally his friends step in to try and rid him of this obsession.
The combined powers of the Water Rat, Mole, and Badger come to naught when Toad escapes their house arrest. He immediately steals a motor car, crashes, pours abuse upon the policeman and finds himself in a deep, dark jail with a long sentence. After months of confinement the jailer’s daughter takes pity on him and helps him escape dressed as a washerwoman.
Relying on his wits and a great deal of luck, Toad makes it home only to discover that the weasels of the Wild Wood have taken over his grand residence, Toad Hall. The friends hatch a plot and, using a secret tunnel, take the weasels by surprise and rout them from the house. The novel ends with a welcome home party hosted by a newly modest Toad.
- This is one novel that I’m pleased to report is thoroughly delightful. I can’t wait to introduce this to H in three or four years when chapter books will be no problem for her. My library copy included the original illustrations, which greatly added to the reading experience as well.
- I thought the ending was a bit abrupt. The Toad is just horribly conceited and thinks a very great deal of himself and a very little for anyone else. Yet, at the final welcome home party he somehow changes himself into a new Toad full of modesty. After such a build up throughout the novel it seemed a bit odd. I couldn’t help but think that it wouldn’t last.
I have to confess I wrote this review quite a while ago, and it got lost in the flurry of summer. I will try to be better and get back to the keyboard this fall. Pray that J takes decent naps. Meanwhile, I’m in the depths of Anna Karenina.