Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Return to the Willows by Jacqueline Kelly

Mole, Ratty, Toad, and Badger are back for more rollicking adventures in this sequel to The Wind in the Willows. With lavish illustrations by Clint Young, Jacqueline Kelly masterfully evokes the magic of Kenneth Grahame's beloved children's classic and brings it to life for a whole new generation.

Very few times in all the years I’ve been reading have I come across a book that is a sequel to a classic that manages to capture the essence of the first book we all fell in love with. This one, unfortunately, is not one of those.

The magic of the first book is lost in this one. Instead, this “sequel” feels sluggish and, dare I say it, quite dull. The main story doesn’t start until way too late in novel, making me wonder how children, to whom this book is geared, will make sense of what’s going on with all the side plots.

Yes, all the characters from the original are back, but they are not nearly as fascinating as the first time around. And really, the lessons we learned from Wind in the Willows are completely lost here. It’s like the author forgot the previous book even had the feeling of a parable.

Another thing that got frustrating very quickly was the author’s voice popping in at odd moments in footnotes with a really condescending tone. I’m not sure how kids will like being talked down to like that.

All in all, not one I enjoyed too much. Much better to reread the original than to bother with this one.

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