My review of Kij Johnson’s The River Bank, delightfully illustrated by Kathleen Jennings, is up at NPR Books! Here’s a taste:
The River Bank is set a year after the events of The Wind in the Willows, and takes up its familiar, much-beloved characters in their natural summertime habitats and occupations: Mole and Rat go boating, Badger keeps the Weasels and Stoats in line, and all are beleaguered by their periodically reformed friend Toad of Toad Hall. But two new people have arrived at the River Bank, taking up residence in Sunflower Cottage, a Miss Mole and a Miss Rabbit. While most of the River Bank’s denizens welcome the new arrivals, Mr. Mole regards them with grumpy suspicion. In particular, he shuns Miss Mole completely, and seems to have some previous acquaintance with her of which he refuses to speak. But when Toad — innocently encouraged by Miss Rabbit — conceives a new, disastrous passion for motorcycles, all manner of incident, consequence, shambles and shenanigans ensue, forcing the Moles to put aside their differences — and similarities — in order to help.
I read this book and wrote this review mostly while by a river bank myself, watching the season shift like mist on the water. It left me with picnic ambitions and a warm sense of peace and longing tangling together like light through the summer’s last leaves. I hope you enjoy it.