Books: Kindly Beasts

In 1908 the house of Scribner got from Kenneth Grahame, secretary of the Bank of England, a manuscript entitled Mr. Toad. Publisher Charles Scribner II was doubtful of its success. Author Grahame's previous juveniles (The Golden Age, Dream Days) had been about children, whereas Mr. Toad was about animals, with nary a child from start to finish.

But Publisher Scribner was unduly worried. Retitled The Wind in the Willows, the Book of Toad has proved one of the sturdiest juvenile successes ever known. In Britain alone it has sold 1,338,000 copies; in the U.S. it has never been out of print. Year...

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