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How the Heather Looks: A Joyous Journey to the British Sources of Children's Books
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How the Heather Looks: A Joyous Journey to the British Sources of Children's Books

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  142 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Over forty years ago, Joan Bodger, her husband, and two children went to Britain on a very special family quest. They were seeking the world that they knew and loved through children’s books.

In Winnie-the-Pooh Country, Mrs. Milne showed them the way to “that enchanted place on the top of the Forest [where] a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.” In Edinburgh the
Hardcover, 249 pages
Published March 27th 1999 by McClelland & Stewart
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LH Johnson
Poorly written in places, intensely poignant in places, How the Heather Looks is a strange book which, in a way, taught me more about my attitude towards children's literature rather than teaching me about it. I am, at present, engaged in a bit of a project to try and find a book for every for every county in the UK and so How The Heather Looks has a curious relevance for me right now. I'm becoming fascinated with the roots of story, in the points where the imaginary and the real world connect, ...more
This book kidnapped my imagination in a way I was hardly expecting it to. Bodger narrates a trip she took with her husband and two children to the UK with one purpose in mind: finding the real geographical points/locations of their beloved children's books. This seems silly and a wild goose chase, but as they did research, they found (as do you as the reader) that many of these fictional lands are rooted in the real surroundings of the author's lives.

It was interesting to read just how willing B
If you like the English countryside and you like certain classics of English literature for children, you must read this. Chapters vary in their appeal to me; I did not get much into the search for King Arthur's country, much more nebulous than (say) trying to explore The River in Kenneth Grahame-land or walk the Hundred Acre Wood. A daring call on Arthur Ransome Swallows and Amazons, reputed to be a grouch and a misanthrope, gave a nice surprise.

This was written too early for Watership Down, o
I LOVED THIS BOOK! If you've ever read Puck of Pook's Hill, Wind in the Willows, stories of King Arthur, Robin Hood, etc., you will too. Essentially, this is the story of a trip taken by the author Joan Bodger with her husband and two children to discover the "roots" of their most beloved British children's literature. So they drive through the English countryside looking for Toad Hall, or Pook's Hill, or Piglet's house...I just loved this book. The writing was beautifully lyrical in keeping wit ...more
Jennifer Mcfarlane
Lovely, enchanting book about a family retracing the roots of stories and illustrations from famous British Children's Literature. My favorite quote:
"T.H. White was all his life concerned with the clash of Might and Right, the relationship of Big and Little. One might say that this is the central them of English children's literature; indeed, of English history. It is well to remember that Anne Frank was held, and finally crushed, by men who had never known- or had lost- all sense of proportion.
Maria M. Elmvang
Somehow I had managed to misunderstand what the book was about, so in case others are under the same misconception, I'll state it clearly. This is not a book about books. It's a book about the scenery of books. As such, it is a very charming travel account, but as I only knew very few of the books listed (probably one of the problems with only having grown up with those English books that have been translated to Danish), and don't care much about book settings in the first place, I probably didn ...more
I loved this memoir of a family's trip to Great Britian in the late 1950's in search of the actual places where famous children's books were set. I certainly wish I could have seen the river where Water Rat and Mole might have boated, the place where Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle did her laundry, and the settings for Caldecott's illustrations. They even got to meet Christopher Robin's mother and play poohsticks from the bridge! I later learned, from her obituary, that Joan didn't have a perfect life, but sh ...more
Catherine Gillespie
The book chronicles a fabulous trip undertaken by an American family of four in the 1950s, in which they traveled around the UK finding locations of all of their favorite children’s literature. I have LONG wanted to try something similar, visiting all of the spots I’ve read about all of my life, and it was pure pleasure to read about someone who had actually done so! The book was very well written and researched, and helpful in reminding me of books I read in childhood but haven’t remembered to ...more
Jane Ellen
I'm an Anglophile and a children's fiction connoisseur. Does this book not fit me like a glove fits a hand? Many may find passages a wee bit slow, but I savored every word. Be forewarned, however: at the close of each chapter, you will come down with a bad case of travel-mania, best cured by a quick perusal of plane ticket prices.
I was truly captivated by the author's family travels throughout the British Isles in search of the landscape of British children's literature. This is the England of The Green Knight, Merlin, Winnie the Pooh, Five Children and It, Swallows and Amazons, Peter Rabbit, The Lantern Bearers, Puck of Pook's Hill and so many others. Ms. Bodger's enthusiasm for her subject is palpable enough that I felt bonded with her enough to seek out her autobiography; A Crack in the Tea Cup. Much sadness surrounds ...more
"Over fifty years ago, Joan Bodger, her husband, and two children went to Britain on a family quest. They were seeking the world that they knew and loved through children's books. As Bodger recounts their adventures through Winnie-the-Pooh Country, Jemima Puddle-Duck's farm, and many more beloved fairy tale locations, she brings alive the magic of the stories we love to remember. She persuades us that, like Emily Dickinson, even if we 'have never seen a moor,' we can imagine 'how the heather loo ...more
Written back in the late 1950s, this is the tale of one family's travels around Britain, in search of the sites featured in their favourite children's books.
It is a fun read, capturing a taste of life just before things started changing in that country.
The story is engaging, and well written. The adventures they have are often inconceivable today, though it evokes imagery from many children's books written back around that time.
The author even got to meet some of the people she was writing about
Austen to Zafón
In the late 50's, when her children were, I believe, 2 or 3 and 9, she and her husband took them to England for an extended trip during which they visited places relevant to the many children's books they had all read. Some of them are books you don't hear much about these days (such as Kipling's "Puck of Pook's Hill," "Johnny Crow," and Caldecott's illustrated verses), but many are familiar: "The Wind in the Willows," "The Tailor of Gloucester," "The Chronicles of Narnia," and "Swallows and Ama ...more
considering this is such a slim little book, it certainly took me long enough to get through it. it's one of those books you can easily pick up, read a few pages and put down. when next you visit - it is like time stood still and the the family is right where you left them. i can only imagine how much more enjoyable this book would be for someone who was more familiar with the stories and poems the family investigates for, without a doubt, the best parts for me are when she is talking about some ...more
Bodger and her family went to England to see the sites of their favorite children's books, and Bodger wrote this sweet little book about it. I really enjoyed reading it despite the fact that I haven't read many of the books- because it doesn't matter. It's a thing with which I identified, and reading about how the family reacted to various things being the same/different/missing/better was so much fun. It really made me want to do my own trip, though. And now I want to read Bodger's memoir.
This book is an account of a trip to England which the Canadian author and her family made in 1959 to seek out, as the subtitle reveals, “the British sources of children’s books.” Based on the inclinations of Bodger and her literature professor husband, and in order to enlist the enthusiastic participation of their two young children, the family focused their travels on locales with links to children’s books and authors they all revered. This book is an account of their journey, but also a medit ...more
Love this book of a family's journey through England and Scotland on a literary journey. The writing was intimate in a style that you don't often get in modern memoirs, not that families do this sort of thing any more. Which is a pity.

It was slow reading however, I think because I know a little bit about what happened to the charming literary Bodger family in the years after the events of this book took place. Plus I wished they'd have spent a little more time in Scotland and a little less in E
I rarely re-read books, especially nonfiction, but this was my third trip through How the Heather Looks. This time where possible I stopped mid-chapter to read the children's book whose setting the family was visiting: R. Caldecott's picture books, Leslie Brook's Golden Goose and Johnny Crow books, The Wind in the Willows, The Borrowers, Winnie the Pooh, Beatrix Potter.

** Please support your local independent bookstore when buying this book! Buying from hurts your local economy. If y
for travel to the UK
A children's literature-loving family decides to go to England and look at various places from cherished books. Among the authors referenced: Arthur Ransome, Beatrix Potter, Rosemary Sutcliffe, CS Lewis, Kipling, Howard Pyle, Kenneth Grahame, Robert Louis Stevenson, etc. It was enjoyable to hear about their travels and to see how they did their research in pre-Internet days: the trip took place in 1958. The only thing that would have made it better would have been photos of the locations they to ...more
I enjoyed this one, though it made me want to do more research into early British children's literature. Beatrix Potter and the Wind in the Willows I know, but many others are just not familiar enough for me to visualize the artwork and stories that inspired this journey. Still, I envy them their experiences and enjoyed the humor and obvious joy they found in their trip. This edition is also nice for the afterword in which the author discusses life after the trip and how this book was received.
It is such an amazing and truly insightful journey this book takes you on into that in-between world where worlds overlap - the worlds of children's literature and historical places and spaces, mythic worlds, worlds that have that rusty patina of old memories and that world that every reader wants to believe is there waiting for him/her to discover - Bodger writes with a gentle good humour and such a passion for children's books - not my first reading but not my last either!
Actually re-reading for the umpteenth time and would rate SIX stars every time if possible. Was familiar with many of the books referenced and have, and am, reading them again and again. Those I didn't know I have tracked down over three countries, my mission being to eventually own each one mentioned so as to fully immerse myself in 'How the Heather Looks.'

Am now excited about finding 'Are We Nearly There Yet?' for some half-century-plus comparisons.
This book is about a trip the author & her family took to Britain one summer, in the late 1950s. They organized their travel to visit a number of sites where notable children's authors & illustrators came from, & the settings of many family favorites. The book is a delight from start to finish, but be forewarned; if you like it & want to read more by Joan Bodger, her memoir is quite different.
I couldn't finish this book. I started it because it seemed like the kind of thing I like, but I read to much and found out that one of the author's family passed away after the book was finished. I couldn't finish it knowing that I was reading the adventures of someone who was going to die.
A joyous journey indeed! Anyone who is enthralled with the literature, lore, and landscape of Britain must read this book. It not only inspired me to visit some of the places in person, but to visit (and re-visit) the books discussed. I re-discovered some old friends and made some new ones. An absolutely lovely read.
One of my new favorite books. I absolutely LOVED this "tour of English books" The chapter on Arthur Ransome alone was enough. I kept reading snippets out loud to my English-literature-loving son. We ate it up like chocolate chip ice cream. Could not possibly recommend more highly for all bookophiles.
family travelling England in search of places described in their favorite children's books. It was fun and I enjoyed it. I found it slow in parts where I didn't care very much about the books. I was surprised how many of the books I had read and enjoyed. It is a trip I might like to take myself.
Linda K
Totally delightful account of an American couple, in the 1950's, with British roots, taking their 2 young children on a ship to England, to explore the sites of many of their favorite children's books. Told in the mother's voice it is full of education, fun and a host of charming moments.
Jul 29, 2011 Julie added it
Shelves: uk-travel
If you love children's literature and are interested in the authors and where they live and the places they wrote about, you will love this book. It would be wonderful to get to mimic her journey and go to all these places, but reading her book is the next best thing.
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