It's clear that kid's stories from the turn of last century are not like current kid's stories however; similar to children's lit like The Hobbit, the characters get into a scuffle here and there, and they aren't above a knock on the head with a cudgel or a pistol shot now and again.
In keeping with the Hobbit comparison, Mole, who is the first character we meet, is a quiet, homebody who takes it upon himself rather suddenly to quit his housecleaning and step outside for a little adventure, and by the end of the story, is a completely new animal. Mole goes through a transformation of character that is delightful to see.
Mole's life changes when he decides to take a walk--to see what there is to see--and finds himself at the river for the first time in his life. He soon meets Rat, the water rat, who lives along the river--the Thames as it turns out--and the two become fast friends, and then he also meets Otter, Badger, Toad, and a few others along the way.
What adventures they have together: boating, picnicking, traveling along the byways and highways in a gipsy caravan, stealing cars, jail breaking, fraud, assault, shooting at folks in the dark... Ah, good, clean fun for the kiddies!
Proto-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
These fellas 'bout ta get busy!
Yes, jail breaking. And getting away with it. And living happily ever after. With no ramifications. And laughing about it. Yeaaah, don't bother reading to your kids, just get them a copy of Grand Theft Auto and a Saturday Night Special. They'll grow up strong.
I kid! This book was great! (Altho I probably wouldn't read it to the kids.)
The Wind in the Willows was written by Kenneth Grahame; first published in 1908. I read the Puffin Classics paperback edition, printed in 2008 with an introduction by Brian Jacques. There have been various movie and cartoon versions of this story by Disney and others.