The Wind in the Willows, And Dream Days (With Over 25 Illustrations)
: Classic children's literature
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The Wind in the Willows, And Dream Days is the classic children's literature by Kenneth Grahame, who was a Scottish writer, most famous for The Wind in the Willows (1908), one of the classics of children's literature. He also wrote The Reluctant Dragon; both books were later adapted into Disney films.
The Wind in the Willows, first published in 1908. Alternately slow moving and fast paced, it focuses on four anthropomorphised animal characters in a pastoral version of England. The novel is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie and celebrated for its evocation of the nature of the Thames valley. In 1908 Grahame retired from his position as secretary of the Bank of England. He moved back to Cookham, Berkshire, where he had been brought up and spent his time by the River Thames doing much as the animal characters in his book do—namely, as one of the most famous phrases from the book says, "simply messing about in boats"—and wrote down the bed-time stories he had been telling his son Alistair. In 1909, Theodore Roosevelt, then US president, wrote to Grahame to tell him that he had "read it and reread it, and have come to accept the characters as old friends." The novel was in its thirty-first printing when playwright A. A. Milne adapted a part of it for the stage as Toad of Toad Hall in 1929. In 2003, The Wind in the Willows was listed at number 16 on the BBC's survey The Big Read.
Dream Days is a collection of children's fiction and reminiscences of childhood written by Kenneth Grahame. A sequel to Grahame's 1895 collection The Golden Age (some of its selections feature the same family of five children), Dream Days was first published in 1898 under the imprint John Lane: The Bodley Head. (The first six selections in the book had been previously published in periodicals of the day—in the Yellow Book, the New Review, and in Scribner's Magazine in the United States.) The book is best known for its inclusion of Grahame's classic story The Reluctant Dragon. Like its precursor volume, Dream Days received strong approval from the literary critics of the day. In the decades since, the book has perhaps suffered a reputation as a thinner and weaker sequel to The Golden Age—except for its single hit story. In one modern estimation, both books "paint a convincingly unsentimental picture of childhood, with the adults in these sketches totally out of touch with the real concerns of the young people around them, including their griefs and rages."
- Unsecretbooks.com, December 2012
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