Salon.com’s Hilary Flower writes poignantly of the so-called “abridged” version of The Wind in the Willows and other favorites. Books made up a good deal of my world as a child and are still very important, so I shudder to read about the travesties the Great Illustrated Classics has wrought upon them.

Maybe I’m being too dramatic.

But still, it seems a shame that this publishing house produces watered-down versions of classic children’s books without providing much clue of what lurks between the covers. According to Flower, these books are not so much abridgments as rewritings. They are cleansed of much of the undercurrents that nestle in the best stories and language that shows the beauty of the author’s work. Sure, a child may not understand everything the first time through, but that’s where the mind is expanded. A truly great story will speak to a person across the years, uncovering new ideas with each stage in their life. To deny that is the saddest thing I’ve read in a while.

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