Cover image for The willows in winter
The willows in winter
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Griffin, 1996.
Physical Description:
294 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
General Note:
Sequel to: The wind in the willows by Kenneth Grahame.
Reading Level:
1190 L Lexile
The further escapades of four animal friends who live along a river in the English countryside--Toad, Mole, Rat, and Badger.


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For now, in an act of homage and celebration, William Horwood has brought to life once more the four most-loved characters in English literature: the loyal Mole, the resourceful Water Rat, the stern but wise Badger, and, of course, the exasperating, irresistible Toad. The result is an enchanting, unforgettable new novel, enlivened by delightful illustrations, in which William Horwood has recaptured all the joy, magic, and good humor of Grahame's great work - and Toad is still as exasperatingly lovable as he ever was.

Author Notes

William Horwood is the author of the critically acclaimed Duncton trilogies. He lives outside of Oxford.

Patrick Benson studied at the Chelsea Art School and St. Martin's School of Art. He also lives in England.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Horwood revisits Kenneth Grahame's classic, The Wind in the Willows, to transplant its characters to a new adventure. His story, like Grahame's, involves a series of comic misunderstandings that lead different animals into a variety of odd journeys. The trouble starts when Otter's son Portly sends Mole into a blizzard on what proves to be an unnecessary rescue mission, and Mole disappears, thus mobilizing other would-be rescuers. Meanwhile Toad, having exchanged the motor car of Wind in the Willows for a flying machine, wrests control of the plane from the pilot and sails off on a chaotic joy ride. There's a bit of mistaken identity, another disguise for Toad (who previously impersonated a washerwoman), incarceration and a ludicrous trial. Toad even has an out-of-body experience. Horwood captures most of the atmosphere of the original work, although its wild, sublime silliness escapes him. Toad, for example, remains irremediably pompous and wayward, but he is no longer Grahame's larger-than-life mock-epic hero. Nevertheless, Horwood manages a lot of mirthful moments, and those who can't get enough of the River Bank and the Wild Wood will be grateful for his work. All ages. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

Mole, Water Rat, Badger, and Toad return, but they are mere shadows of their former selves. Horwood has a talent for mimicry, and he manages to reproduce Kenneth Grahame's phraseology and rhythms rather well. Unfortunately, this sorry sequel captures none of the magic of the original Willows. It is stodgy and doddering, like the ageing animals it features. Horwood writes the story of Mole, who goes out in a blizzard to save Rat and Otter and falls through the ice of the River and is swept away. Meanwhile, all his friends and even some weasels and stoats have formed a search party, but after a few days they give up and hold a memorial service that Mole himself attends. Toad, who was supposed to help look for Mole in his new plane, flies off and gets into trouble in the Wide World from which he narrowly escapes with Badger's help. Without Grahame's wit and artistry, this falls terribly flat. Horwood proves that it takes more than a good ear to write a sequel to a classic. This attempt is presumptuous. (Fiction. All ages)

Booklist Review

Well, it happened to Scarlett O'Hara, why shouldn't it happen to Mr. Toad? Behold the sequel to The Wind in the Willows. Actually, the further adventures of the Willows gang work rather well both as follow-up and as freestanding story. Set by the same familiar riverbank and in the same Wild Woods, the new tale picks up the animals' lives after a few years have passed. Rat, Mole, and Badger continue to be clever, loyal, and wise, respectively, but Toad seems to have had a change of heart. Chastened by his previous experiences with automobiles and his brushes with the law, the once obstreperous Toad has been living in relative calm. But all that changes when Toad catches airplane fever, a malady that makes his former entanglement with autos look like the sniffles. Horwood treats readers to two parallel stories--the disappearance of Mole and Toad's troubles after a wild flight--and the tale is at its best when these plots converge. Horwood also does a good job of mimicking Kenneth Grahame's rather formal and very British style. While younger fans of the original novel may well take to this sequel--and certainly they will enjoy Patrick Benson's charming pen-and-ink illustrations--one suspects that the publisher sees the book's primary audience as adults who fondly remember life on the riverbank. The strategy worked in England, where the book was originally published and spent 12 weeks on the London Times best-seller list. A 100,000-copy first printing suggests that the same fate awaits here. (Reviewed August 1994)0312113544Ilene Cooper