Children’s Classics Mini Reviews: The Secret Garden & The Wind in the Willows

I recently listened to the audiobook for The Secret Garden and The Wind in the Willows. I highly enjoyed both of them, and figured, why do one  long review for each, when I could combine them and do two short reviews? Laziness always wins.

Children’s Classics Mini Reviews: The Secret Garden & The Wind in the WillowsThe Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Published by Penguin Books on October 27th 2005
Genres: Children's Classic
Narrator: Shelly Frasier
Length: 5 hours, 11 minutes
Format: Audiobook

One of the most celebrated works of classic literature for children
Meet little Mole, willful Ratty, Badger the perennial bachelor, and petulant Toad. Over one hundred years since their first appearance in 1908, they've become emblematic archetypes of eccentricity, folly, and friendship. And their misadventures-in gypsy caravans, stolen sports cars, and their Wild Wood-continue to capture readers' imaginations and warm their hearts long after they grow up. Begun as a series of letters from Kenneth Grahame to his son, The Wind in the Willows is a timeless tale of animal cunning and human camaraderie.

The Wind in the Willows is a hilarious story about animals named Mr. Toad, the Mole, and Ratty (to name a few). The story details their exploits as they deal with Mr. Toad’s obsession with driving motors and his penchant for getting into accidents. If you’ve ever been to Disneyland, you’ve likely ridden on “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.” Well, the ride is based on this book, and now I feel like everything in the ride makes sense!

The book is so easy to enjoy, written oh-so cleverly, and is laugh-out-loud funny on many occasions. I’d highly recommend it to any lover of absurd humor, children’s novels, or anyone who wants to read about a hilariously conceited and self-centered Mr. Toad.

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Children’s Classics Mini Reviews: The Secret Garden & The Wind in the WillowsThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
on September 1st 1998
Genres: Children's Classic
Length: 7 hours, 58 minutes
Format: Audiobook

When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle's great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. And at night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors.

The gardens surrounding the large property are Mary's only escape.

One day, Mary discovers a secret garden surrounded by walls and locked with a missing key. With the help of two unexpected companions, she discovers a way in. Is everything in the garden dead, or can Mary bring it back to life?

If you’ve ever seen the movie, The Secret Garden, I will say that this book doesn’t stray far from the story line, so you won’t be surprised by much in the novel.

This is the story of a young girl from India whose family dies from cholera. She is forced to go live with her uncle in England. The estate is mysterious and full of secrets, including a walled, secret garden that Mary finds one afternoon. Through the garden, Mary meets Dicken, a local boy who helps Mary bring the garden back to life. After months living at the estate, Mary’s wanderings through the home lead her to a rotten young boy named Colin. It turns out he is her cousin and a hypochondriac who believes himself to be an invalid close to death. Through Mary and Dicken, Colin learns that he may not be as sick as he originally believed and that there is life outside the mansion worth living.

The story is completely lovely. If you haven’t read it yet, I would highly encourage that you do. If you haven’t seen the movie, even better. Read the book first!

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chime in
What’s your favorite children’s story? Have you read either of these?

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  1. I tried reading the Wind in the Willows recently. I loved the first half of the story; it made me feel nostalgic because I had a little story book that was about Mr. Toads wild ride. But, I lost interest after that. I supposed partly because I wasn’t familiar with the rest of the story and partly because I’m not a huge fan absurd humor. (That’s a big reason why I wasn’t a fan of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland).

    I’d really love to read the Secret Garden though. This is going to sounds silly though– I’ve had such poor experiences reading the classics that I’m kind of afraid to read the Secret Garden. Still, it was one of my absolute favorite movies when I was a kid. Maybe I’ll snag a copy after the new year…!

    1. I’m not a fan of absurd humor normally either. I can’t deal with Alice in Wonderland either. For some reason I could deal with the Wind in the Willows? Maybe because at least the absurdity seemed contained and within well set limits, whereas AinW is crazy and all of the place and nothing is impossible? Who knows.

      Don’t be afraid of the Secret Garden! I’m not a good “classics” reader either – and I suffer when they’re too difficult to read. The Secret Garden is really easy to read and is a lovely story – there is nothing “classic-y” about it other than that it has that label (: