The magic unfolds from the first lines of Water Rat's soliloquy about messing about in boats in this captivating version of Kenneth Grahame's classic.
Although it's generally considered a children's book, get a copy for yourself as well as the child in your life, as you won't want to give this away. Ralph Cosham's performance is a study in characterization without over-dramatization. His Ratty is breezy and lighthearted, his Mole shy and considerate. His Badger sounds just like that gruff old man you once knew who had a heart of gold. And his Toad—well, his Toad is perfectly insufferable. Cosham sounds as if he is reading his favorite work of fiction, and his affection is contagious.
About the Author
Grahame wanted to attend Oxford University, but was not allowed to do so by his guardian on grounds of cost. Instead he was sent to work at the Bank of England in 1879, and rose through the ranks until retiring as its Secretary in 1908 due to ill health, which may have been precipitated by a strange, possibly political, shooting incident at the bank in 1903. Grahame was shot at three times, all of them missed. An alternative explanation, given in a letter on display in the Bank museum, is that he had quarrelled with Walter Cunliffe, one of the bank's directors, who would later become Governor of the Bank of England, in the course of which he was heard to say that Cunliffe was "no gentleman", and that his retirement was enforced ostensibly on health grounds.
Grahame died in Pangbourne, Berkshire, in 1932. He is buried in Holywell Cemetery, Oxford. Grahame's cousin Anthony Hope, also a successful author, wrote his epitaph, which reads: "To the beautiful memory of Kenneth Grahame, husband of Elspeth and father of Alastair, who passed the river on the 6th of July, 1932, leaving childhood and literature through him the more blest for all time."
Read an Excerpt
"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents,"grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
"It's so dreadful to be poor!"sighed Meg, looking down at her old dress.
"I don't think it's fair for some girls to have lots of pretty things, and other girls nothing at all," added little Amy, with an injured sniff.
"We've got father and mother, and each other, anyhow,"said Beth, contentedly, from her corner.
The four young faces on which the firelight shone brightened at the cheerful words, but darkened again as Jo said sadly?
"We haven't got father, and shall not have him for a long time." She didn't say "perhaps never,"but each silently added it, thinking of father far away, where the fighting was.
Nobody spoke for a minute; then Meg said in an altered tone, "You know the reason mother proposed not having any presents this Christmas, was because it's going to be a hard winter for every one; and she thinks we ought not to spend money for pleasure, when our men are suffering so in the army. We can't do much, but we can make our little sacrifices, and ought to do it gladly. But I am afraid I don't;"and Megshook her head, as she thought regretfully of all the pretty things she wanted.
"But I don't think the little we should spend would do any good. We've each got a dollar, and the army wouldn't be much helped by our giving that. I agree not to expect anything from mother or you, but I do want to buy Undine and Sintram for myself; I've wanted it so long,'said Jo, who was a bookworm.
"I planned to spend mine in new music,"said Beth, with a little sigh, which no one heard but the hearth-brush andkettle-holder.
"I shall get a nice box of Faber's drawing pencils; I really need them," said Amy, decidedly.
"Mother didn't say anything about our money, and she won't wish us to give up everything. Let's each buy what we want, and have a little fun; I'm sure we grub hard enough to earn it,"cried Jo, examining the heels of her
boots in a gentlemanly manner.
"I know I do, teaching those dreadful children nearly all day, when I'm longing to enjoy myself at home," began Meg, in the complaining tone again.
"You don't have half such a hard time as I do," said Jo. "How would you like to be shut up for hours with a nervous, fussy old lady, who keeps you trotting, is never satisfied, and worries you till you''e ready to fly out of the window or box her ears?"
"It's naughty to fret, but I do think washing dishes and keeping things tidy is the worst work in the world. It makes me cross; and my hands get so stiff, I can't practise good a bit." And Beth looked at her rough hands with a sigh that any one could hear that time.
"I don't believe any of you suffer as I do," cried Amy; "for you don't have to go to school with impertinent girls, who plague you if you don't know your lessons, and laugh at your dresses, and label your father if he isn't rich, and insult you when your nose isn't nice."
"If you mean libel I'd say so, and not talk about labels, as if pa was a pickle-bottle," advised Jo, laughing.
Table of Contents
|Chapter 1||The River Bank||1|
|Chapter 2||The Open Road||25|
|Chapter 3||The Wild Wood||48|
|Chapter 4||Mr. Badger||70|
|Chapter 5||Dulce Domum||94|
|Chapter 6||Mr. Toad||121|
|Chapter 7||The Piper at the Gates of Dawn||146|
|Chapter 8||Toad's Adventures||165|
|Chapter 9||Wayfarers All||191|
|Chapter 10||The Further Adventures of Toad||221|
|Chapter 11||'Like Summer Tempests Came His Tears'||250|
|Chapter 12||The Return of Ulysses||281|
What People are Saying About This
“Narrator Shelly Frasier's clear, pleasant voice carefully distinguishes [Rat, Toad, Mole, and Badger].... The naughty toad is her best creation-she seems to understand his dreamy but destructive love of motor cars completely.” -AudioFile