©2007 Kenneth Grahame (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Narrated by the wonderful Michael Horden, this is and all time classic. You follow the well known adventures of Ratty, Mole, Badger and Mr Toad as they have fun on the river, scares from the weasels in the Wild Wood and deal with the extravagances of Mr Toad. If you don't know the story i urge you to read it, children of all ages will love it. If you do then this is the version to get.
We read Winnie the Pooh with our three year old, and he loves listening to this version of the stories over and over again, and often goes to sleep listening to it. The narration is lovely, not too fast, and the characters voices are easy to tell apart. I find Piglet's voice a bit irritating, but he loves it! Each chapter is separated by some gentle music and easy to navigate too. We're just bought The House at Pooh Corner as well!
"We were all Toad, once."
When I was 10 or 11 my family became acquainted with a very old, and very wealthy lady named Mrs. Marsh. Mrs. Marsh lived in Duxbery Massachusetts all alone in a very beautiful English style home that looked out over the harbor. She had a fine garden, a library stuffed with books floor to ceiling, a large kitchen you could cook anything you wanted in for as many people as you knew (and all the people they knew, too), but she was blind and couldn't much take care of herself anymore since her husband had died many years before. So my family helped her out with taking care of the house, the shopping, and some basic work for the house. We also read to her since she loved books but because she could no longer see, requested that she be read to.
Upstairs, through a concealed passage connecting to a room above the garage, was a room set up as an old school room. There was a chalkboard and desks, and even books for children to read. The room hadn't been used in decades and was dusty and everything old, but it reminded me of the scene near the end of this novel where Toad sings his final song about himself to himself. One last act of selfish bravado before "growing up".
Just a year later I would find myself having to move out of the home I grew up in, having to leave the valley and the river I had played along everyday since I had been born. I remember doing what Elspeth Huxley did in her novel, The Flame Trees of Thika, and kissed all four walls of my childhood home hoping that would mean I would one day get to come back - but I never did. My childhood stopped (a little bit) that day, and I physically left behind the first part of my life.
After that was Jr High, bad grades, worse friends, and a steady decline in any innocent childhood until I was shipped all the way out to Colorado. In fact I haven't been back to Massachusetts except once since leaving - and that was over 20 years ago.
But this book reminded me of those days, of those comforts that you have as a child - those attachments to things, the attachments to people you cared about, the attachments to long, lazy days along a river, or laying under the sticky pines, or playing baseball in the spare lot. Days where friendships, and battles, and adventures where almost common, where everything was wondrous and sometimes even a little frighteningly mysterious.
Being a child is a lot like being one of the animal characters in this book. I think that's why the animals seem to occupy a world with real people in the book, even interact with them, because they are living side by side, yet seeing the world so differently. This is why Toad can operate a car and not operate it well at all just as a child would crash it into a lake at high speed. This is why they can spend all day on the river or have everything seem to be provided for them - because it is being provided for - by the parents. Mole, Ratty, Badger, Otter, and Toad - along with all the other animals, are the neighborhood kids and the only time we meet a person is when they are in positions of authority or responsibility. That's the only time we care about adults.
I think you could make a parallel between my interpretation of the animals here and how Richard Hughes creates his children characters in A High Wind in Jamaica. The kids in that book occupy their own world, and while not totally indifferent to the adults in their world, they see the adults as some distant land of foreigners, quickly forgotten and somewhat mistrusted.
And yet we do end with the growth of one of the characters, Toad, who sees that he will have to grow at least a little, become a grown up, think of others more often, and put aside his own foolishness and selfishness and pride. And it's a sad ending too because for as much of a pain Toad is, we can't help but not only like him, but want to BE him, too. Because we were all Toad once.
Though I'm not 90 and not blind like Mrs. Marsh, I do find myself having more in common with her than with my younger self as I think about this book. That wondrous world of willows and a magical Piper at the Gates of Dawn does not exist for me anymore, it's nearly as dim as it is to the blind. And the old schoolroom is just as empty for me, full of dust as it had once been full of children. The desks all lined up still, but not for me.
We all have to grow up, but we can at least remember.
"My favorate read version of the willows!"
This of course is a masterpiece of a novel..My review is more about the naration of this classic childhood story(therfore best for adults as well).There realy are so many great readings to choose from here..I have found ralph coshums reading very good.however,i like michael hordens the best..this is why..first, he has a grandfather type voice which is great for this book .second he reads nice and slow[note the difference in time length.]he realy makes this book perfect JOY...hope this helps you choose...enjoy...
"Wonderful story and really good narration"
The descriptions of forests and rivers and the personalities of the characters are delightful listening.
"Classic classic classic"
This a not only a story for children all about the adventures of stalwart Rat, loyal Mole, down-to-earth Badger and the ever-irrepressible Toad. Kenneth Graham appears to have been also a keen and loving observer of nature: his descriptions of the English countryside, its herbs and animals, are breathtakingly beautiful. Add to this the simply delicious reading by Michael Hornden, complete with spot-on characterizations and the jauntiest motorcar horn you're likely ever to hear and what you have is an audiobook to put right next to that old hardback copy you have stashed away among your treasures.
"A classic read with charm"
No. Nothing can replace the cognitive experience of reading printed words. However many of us do have learning disabilities and audio books are a lovely solution. In addition , a book of this quality would be ideally suited for younger readers to listen to as they develop their reading skills. I listened to it while recovering from heart surgery when fatigue made managing a book far too difficult. The lovely gentle adventures and friendships , the beautiful descriptive language - it was all very calming and restorative.
"The narrator really brings this story alive!"
This is a well loved story in my family, it was a joy to listen to it done so well.
"Difficult for American children to understand"
This reading of this book may be better for adults or British children. The narration is difficult to understand as it's often somewhat slurred and the language is very accented. It seems to be a children's book but my 4 and 8 yrs olds both had trouble understanding it and were quickly bored.
"Didn't like it"
Not very entertaining at all, even for a kid. Very boring and wasted time.. Not for me..
"Delightful British tale for adults and children alike"
Animal animation at its finest. I especially enjoyed the animal character development and the interplay between animals and humans.
"A trip down memory lane"
This children's classic of the foolish but irrepressible toad of Toad Hall is brought to life through the best narrative I have heard to date - splendidly well done!
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