Tuesday 13 December 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas 1: The Wind in the Willows

This year, I thought that I would celebrate the twelve days leading up to Christmas by sharing twelve favourite bookish Christmases, those classic scenes or even whole books that really help me to get into the Christmas spirit.

I have to confess that as a child I was never overly keen on animal stories. I read them but didn't enjoy them so much as stories whose focus was on human characters. But The Wind in the Willows was - still is, I think - my sister's favourite book of all time (I believe she has at least 3 copies of the book in her collection - four if you include the audio cassette narrated by Alan Bennett, and always intended to call her first house Mole End.)

After abandoning his spring-cleaning, timid Mole was befriended by the Water Rat, and taken to live with him, where he spent the year making new friends and exploring the world above ground. But as winter fell, he felt his old home calling to him. When Mole is unable to contain his homesickness, Ratty insists they go back, right then! But after the luxuries of the River Bank, Mole feels quite self-conscious of his humble home. But Ratty loves it, and after all it is Mole's home.

"This really is the jolliest little place I ever was in. Now, wherever did you pick up those prints? Make the place look so home-like, they do. No wonder you're so fond of it, Mole. Tell us all about it, and how you came to make it what it is." 

A group of carol-singing young field mice come to call, and are invited in to supper. This chapter is a simple, but cosy and atmospheric celebration of the little pleasures that are the most important of all.

There was an adorable short animation based on this chapter, made in the mid-1990s and featuring the voices of Richard Briers and Peter Davison. This was required viewing in my household every year as I grew up.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great idea for a feature - I can't wait to see the others!

    I was never that big on The Wind in the Willows. I read it as a child, but only once, and I was profoundly 'meh' about it even then.


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