A witty and subversive take on the idea that money makes the world go round, based on The Wind in the Willows, by poet Roger McGough and illustrator Mini Grey.
Mr Toad leaves Toad Hall with a shiny gold coin. He decides to spend it on the best room at Miss Lavender Mole’s Tree House Hotel. Miss Mole imagines spending her riches on a new coat, and treating a friend to tea at The Ritz, but remembers she still owes Sam Stoat money for repainting her front door. Being a dutiful citizen, she repays her debt, and so the coin begins its journey. Each animal has an unpaid debt, which it quickly repays, and the coin travels from paw to paw from the Riverbank all the way to the Wild Wood. This is despite the fact that no animal seems particularly worried about the debt, and all are happy to help out a neighbour on return for a favour.
Unfortunately, Mr Toad is then invited to stay with his old friends Lord and Lady Winkle, so no longer requires the room. Before Miss Mole can land in debtors’ prison, a magpie nail technician returns the coin: it is owed to her for the hire of the hotel for a party. The coin is returned to Mr Toad, and all seems well.
Just when this seems a tale about sound fiscal policy, it is subverted by the headline revelation that the coin was counterfeit! Mr Toad is a forger! Luckily the coin hasn’t been used, merely ‘looked after’ by Miss Mole, and so Toad is let off with a stern warning. We can then read on in the paper about the activities on offer in the area, many of which don’t cost anything at all.
Children familiar with The Wind in the Willows will recognise the much-loved characters that populate the book, delightfully brought to life by Mini Grey. There is so much to talk about in both the pictures and the text, and slightly older readers will enjoy the sophisticated humour. (The Weasels sell old rope, for example). This is a picture book to be enjoyed by all ages, and I would share it with Lower KS2 children.
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