With the arrival of spring and fine weather outside, the good-natured Mole loses patience with spring cleaning. He flees his underground home, and encounters Rat who teaches Mole how to use a row boat. The two friends team up with Badger and Toad, and go on many adventures together. The friends soon learn that Toad lives a reckless life, having crashed seven cars, been hospitalised three times, and spent a fortune on fines. Mole, Rat, and Badger follow Toad on his adventures, and try to help him realize what good friends he has, while doing their best to turn his life around.
Alternately slow moving and fast paced, The Wind in the Willows focuses on four anthropomorphised animals in a pastoral version of England. The novel is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie and celebrated for its evocation of the nature of the Thames valley. In 2002, Mr. Toad was voted Number 38 among the 100 Best Characters in Fiction Since 1900 by Book magazine.