Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 2010: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame


Discussion Questions:
  1. General impressions: Did you enjoy the book?  Why or why not?
  2. This book was written in a slower time... does it still appeal to readers today?  Why or why not?
  3. What do you think about the "anthropomorphism" of animals - giving animals human abilities and characteristics?  Is it effective in this book?  Or do the characters never really seem real to you?
  4. In the very beginning of the book, Mole sets out for a short vacation from his spring cleaning.  It is said by our narrator: "After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working."  Do you agree with this observation?  What is your favorite part of taking a vacation?
  5. Discuss the symbolism of food in the book. What symbolizes home to you?
  6. Discuss the role of hospitality in the book - who do you think was a gracious host? 
  7. Which of the characters in the book do you think would make the best friend? Why?
  8. What is it about the Badger's nature that makes him dislike Society?
  9. The Wind in the Willows is a fun adventure for kids, and a clever exploration of society for adults.  How do the four friends represent the Society of Grahame's times?
  10. Discuss the chapter "Piper at Dawn"... what did you think this was about?  Why would it be included in the book?
  11. Discuss the author's point of view on adventure. What is its purpose? What type of adventure does he find most suitable?
  12. Do you think Mole did the right thing by preventing Rat from leaving home to travel with the Sea Rat? At what point does helping a friend cross the line into controlling a friend's actions?
  13. Discuss the role of grace and forgiveness in friendship.
  14. Talk about Toad.  What did you like/dislike about him?  What do you think of the intervention his friends attempt?  What was his greatest vice?
  15. Do you believe Toad's change of attitude at the end of the book will last? Why or why not?
  16. What moral lessons do you think the author was trying to teach his son through these characters? Which, do you believe, is the most valuable?

About the author:

Kenneth Grahame was born on March 8, 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland. For three years during his

childhood, Grahame lived with his grandmother. She lived near the river Thames and Windsor Forest.
He considered the time he lived beside the lovely river and forest the best years of his life. So, later, after
he had grown-up and had a son of his own, those happy memories of such a beautiful place inspired him
to write The Wind In The Willows.

The book is a series of stories written as a gift for his partially blind and sickly son, Alistair. Alistair loved
storytelling at bedtime so much, and was very upset when he found out that he was going to spend some
time at the seaside because of his health. His father had to stay in town to work. Alistair didn’t want to go
to the beach without his imaginative bedtime stories. Kenneth Grahame promised his son that he would
send him a chapter a day of the story he was telling him about an adventurous toad and his friends. He
kept his promise, and Alistair looked forward to those chapters in the mail. Alistair’s nurse was charmed
by the stories and kept them all safe, sending them back to Grahame– who put them all together in a
book called The Wind In the Willows. He published the book, and it became a huge success with adults
and children. The book’s popularity made him a fortune, allowing him to retire from the job he hated as a
banker and move to his beloved river Thames
 
Menu:  A Riverside Picnic
fried chicken - Chandra
sweet potato salad - Sherrie
brocolli salad- Jen
lemon fruit salad - Tessa
drinks - Erin

Meeting Details:
mark Thursday June 17th on your calendar!  Meeting to start at 7:30 at ERIN'S HOUSE, with dicussion to begin at 8:00.  This meeting will be a go if there are 4 or more people - if there are 3 or less, we'll leave the decision up to those able to attend, and the meeting may be cancelled.

We will skip the June book for this year (anyone read it yet?  maybe we can just have a blog discussion for those of us who did.  Not as tasty, but allows us to participate when we have time...)


Sweet Potato Salad:

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 lb unpeeled baby red potatoes, cut in half
1 lb yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tsp salt
1 large red onion
1 garlic clove, minced *
1 jalepeno chili, seeded and minced *
1/4 c lemon juice
1 cup mayo
1 tbsp curry powder *
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp pepper *
* amounts of seasonings may be increased or decreased to taste)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and boil all the potatoes until tender (15-20 min - do not overcook or the potatoes will not hold up in the salad.) Drain and chill the potatoes overnight. Place the potatoes in a large bowl. Thinly slice the red onion and place it in a colander. Sprinkle the 2 tsp of salt over the onion and let it sit in the colander to drain for 30 min. Squeeze the onion to remove excess water and add the onions to the potatoes. Mix in the mayo, lemon juice and seasonings and chill the salad for at least 6 hours before serving.

Lemon Fruit Salad:

Prepare 1 pkg lemon pie filling mix as per directions.  Allow to cool in the fridge, stirring occassionally so that the filling does not set completely.  When the filling is nearly cooled, stir in 1 tub of Cool Whip, or 4 c prepared, slightly sweetened whipped cream.  Add fruit of your choice: 1 large can well-drained fruit cocktail; 2-3 c fresh berries; 2 cans well-drained mandarin oranges; 2-3 cups chopped, fresh fruit.  A sweet side salad that could just as easily serve as a dessert.

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