For what seemed like an interminable number of nights this was one of our bedtime stories (along with the aptly named The Neverending Story, which we should finally be finishing within the week--I hope!) and I must say I'm really glad it's over. This is in large part because the kids have put in a request for a reread of the Narnia books next . . . and the Harry Potter series after that. Never mind that by the time we finish those fourteen books my grade-schoolers may have already left for college.
So, yes, I'm glad the weeks and weeks of The Willows in Winter have ended, but that's not to say we didn't enjoy reading it. The sequels were not written by Kenneth Grahame, but this story fits in very nicely with the original classic. All the old familiar friends were there: Badger, with his gruff exterior that hides a soft heart; Rat, who is somehow both businesslike and fun-loving; kindhearted and agreeable Mole; and Toad, who gets up to utterly Toad-like shenanigans, though he'd promised he was through with all that. Even the tradition of Using Big Words was upheld.
|I bet this is the picture that inspired the sequel|
"The Mole alone in the Wild Wood in a book was one thing; on my study wall he was rather different. As the months went by Shepard's drawing became part of my own imaginative landscape and Mole's original errand to find Badger faded as the great trees of the Wild Wood loomed larger before me, and the blizzard winds of winter surged and blew . . . it seemed to me that Mole was off on a journey rather different from his original one . . . the story of The Willows in Winter had begun."
How do you feel about sequels of a beloved favorite--especially if the story is continued by a new author? I'll confess that in most cases I would be quite wary of such an animal. I have the feeling that, if the original author is not the source, any further stories just don't count because they're not quite real. Kind of like fanfiction. But I can make an exception for Horwood, who seems to have followed suit respectfully enough that Grahame should still be resting peacefully.