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Farthing Wood #1

The Animals of Farthing Wood

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A group of forest animals unite to help each other to safety in this classic tale of tolerance, cooperation, survival, and friendship. When bulldozers enter Farthing Wood, the animals must escape before their homes are destroyed. They promise to stick together and protect each other—but then they get caught in a fire and nearly drown crossing a river. Will their pact hold? Both heart-wrenching and heartwarming, this beloved story has been translated into 16 languages.

302 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1979

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About the author

Colin Dann

88 books74 followers
Colin Dann (born 1943 in Richmond, Surrey (now part of London)) is an English author. He is best known for his The Animals of Farthing Wood series of books, which was subsequently made into an animated series.

Dann worked at the publishing firm William Collins Sons & Co. for thirteen years, and his first novel, The Animals of Farthing Wood, was written during this period. The original cover for this and a dozen others was painted by Portal artist Frances Broomfield.

Colin Dann, recipient of Britain's Arts Council National Award for Children's Literature, is also the author of six sequels and a prequel to The Animals of Farthing Wood.

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5 stars
2,227 (40%)
4 stars
1,830 (32%)
3 stars
1,154 (20%)
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1 star
85 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 197 reviews
Profile Image for Ken.
2,112 reviews1,316 followers
September 7, 2021
One of my all time childhood favourites!
I was obsessed with the animated series which led me to the books, it’s probably the reason why I like to read and compare my favourite film and tv shows now.

The adventure follows a group of animals who are forced from their home after humans start destroying their woods, with numerous hurdles the band of friends travel across the country to find protection at the White Deer Park nature reserve.

There’s such a nice array of characters including the loyal Fox and pompous Owl plus the fatherly Badger and the greedy Mole who’s appetite can lead him into trouble, the group are lead by tour guide Toad.

Death is a constant threat throughout the book as some of the other animals won’t complete the journey.
It’s gives a real sense of peril and as no one feels safe.

One thing that the tv adaptation improved on was changing some of the animals into female characters, it gives a more diverse feel to the story.

I’ve got so many fond memories of reading this as a kid and it still feels relevant and can easily be enjoyed by youngsters today.
Profile Image for Adrian.
539 reviews194 followers
March 3, 2022
Ok, so I wasn't intending to listen to this as this was on my wife's kindle, but the most recent renovation work on our house meant we were in the same room working, so I listened.

And I'm glad I did, a fun, allegorical and well read audiobook. I must admit I started just vaguely listening, but as their adventures increased I was hooked and if I had to leave the room, I was asking my wife to pause so I didn't miss anything.

This book focusses on the need for a diverse group of wild British animals to make a trek together to a Nature reserve that Toad knows of, simply because the humans have decided to build hoses and develop the current countryside in which they live. With the ban of animals uffering hardships, deaths and many adventures on the way this book looks at the way humans treat animals and nature in general, taking it for granted and using poisons indiscriminately. Well written, it makes you embarrassed to hear what we do to wildlife, both animal and plant life.

Narrated (very well) by Paul Whitehouse, a well know British comedian, this book is well worth a listen.
August 23, 2022
This was a poignant trip down memory lane for me, because as a child, I used to love the TV adaptation of 'The Animals of Farthing Wood' and I remember rushing my dinner so I could go and watch it in the comfort and peace of my bedroom. Those were the days.

I bought this some time ago, and at that time I was pretty surprised at myself that despite being such a big fan of the TV series, I had never actually read the book.

The plot is about a lot of different animals that have to pull together, putting all of their differences aside, to make a perilous journey to White Deer Park. All of this occurs because it is discovered that humans are cutting down the forest, and in the process, they are destroying their homes, so obviously, they need to leave.

I enjoyed the way the story flowed from one scene to another, although, there were quite a lot of scenes that could prove to be uncomfortable for a younger reader, but overall, the tone is quite mellow.

I love the characters, and how we hear from their perspectives. For me, it really worked well. I did notice that this did seem a little sexist, though, as apart from Vixen, the other females were just acknowledged as a 'mate' and they didn't seem to get any character time, in comparison to the males. I probably wouldn't have noticed this as a child, though.

I'm glad I finally got to this when I did, as it was a pleasant break from the norm, as well as being very reminiscent.
Profile Image for Leila.
442 reviews209 followers
February 3, 2018
Although this book is one of quite a few in the series written by this author for youngsters, I do have a weakness for animal stories written for all ages. The Redwall collection and for older children right through to all ages... such excellent reads as 'The Duncton Wood books' 'Little House on the Prairie' and 'Watership Down' for example are all favourites of mine. The recurring themes I like in many of these books are similar in that they are all quests of some sort or other where the goal is to reach a better place or to conquer some sort of evil and triumph. On the way to find a new and safer home the animals of Farthing Wood meet with many ups and downs along their journey to a nature reserve and in the process the different animals learn to bond together in mutual care, cooperation and friendship. The author does introduce difficult concepts such as the loss of friends due to death which he handles in a gentle and sensitive way. What is not to like about these books. The Animals of Farthing Wood was easy to read for the second time and a superb story for youngsters "from nine to ninety"
Profile Image for Aldi.
1,082 reviews81 followers
August 13, 2018
Kid me reading this: oooh, Fox is the cleverest and the handsomest and the bestest hero ever! *hearteyes*
Adult me rereading this: What an insufferable, condescending twat. I am exclusively here for Adder making sarcastic comments and saving lives on the sly, then being really mean to them when they try to thank him because emotions are gross. #SlytherinsRule
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,083 reviews173 followers
May 3, 2020
When their home in Farthing Wood is threatened by human development, a group of animals band together in a dangerous cross-country quest to find a place of safety and refuge. Led by the clever and conscientious Fox, the group includes species that would traditionally be "enemies," or rather, predator and prey. The company initially includes: Fox and his two deputies, Badger and Tawny Owl; Toad, who brings them word of a nature sanctuary that may be just what they are looking for; the boisterous Rabbit family; Mole; a group of hedgehogs; Adder; Weasel; Kestrel; the Hare couple; a groups of squirrels; a number of voles; numerous field mice; and a number of lizards. They all swear the "Oath of Mutual Protection," promising to look out for one another along the way, but although they do their best, some of them will not make it to their final destination at White Deer Park, while two others - Vixen and Whistler the heron - join the company along the way...

Originally published in 1979, The Animals of Farthing Wood is a contemporary classic in the field of animal fiction, and launched a long series of novels. It was the inspiration behind an animated television series, produced from 1992-1995, of the same name, and there have been numerous titles published that offer the adapted television stories in book form. I had long been aware of the series, but only started to read it as part of a research project into the depiction of foxes in children's literature. I am so glad that I did, as it is simply a wonderful book! It has a clear didactic aim, in promoting environmentalist ideas about land conservation and stewardship - at one point, while discussing the nature of humankind, the animals decide that naturalists are the only exception to the rule than human beings are destructive and arrogant - and there are numerous passages describing the tragedy that overdevelopment has brought to the natural world, and to its animals inhabitants. I found this story particularly interesting, because unlike many examples of anthropomorphic animal fiction that depict species which would normally be antagonistic toward one another as living in peace, here the story overtly addresses this issue, rather than trying to pretend it doesn't exist. Of course, the 'Oath of Mutual Protection' isn't exactly realistic, but it allows for a fascinating and occasionally moving story. In the end, whatever the didactic aim, and however many fascinating philosophical interludes it contained, this was an exciting adventure story, one I raced through. I had no sooner set it down, than I was reaching for the next book in the series, In the Grip of Winter , which chronicles the animals' experiences after they reach White Deer Park. Highly recommended, to any reader who enjoys good animal fiction.
Profile Image for Sophie Crane.
3,525 reviews115 followers
November 2, 2020
A gripping, exciting and emotional story where the Animals of Farthing Wood must leave their home because of humans destroying the land to build houses. Toad reveals he knows a nature reserve where they can all go and live safely from human intervention and so the animals make an oath to protect one another on the dangerous journey to the nature reserve White Deer Park.

The group consists of the leader Fox, the second in command Badger, their guide Toad, the lookouts and scouts Tawny Owl and Kestrel as well as an Adder, Weasel, Mole, Hares, Rabbits, Squirrels, Voles, Fieldmice, Hedgehogs, Lizards and Pheasants. Along the way they encounter a trunk road, a fire, a storm, getting locked in a shed on a farm where the farmer wields a shotgun, crossing a river, the fox hunt, a motorway, poisonous farmland and going directly through a town! The lives of animals are lost, and they meet new friends along the way that join them on their journey, but will they make it to the safety and sanctuary of White Deer Park?

A truly great story that keeps you hooked from start to finish, I recommend it highly.
Profile Image for Jaye.
253 reviews
January 23, 2013
Its been over twenty years since I read this book last with my school class, all of us following along as our teacher (the one who impacted me the most) read aloud. Now I'm looking forward to revisiting it with adult eyes :)


Jan 2013: I think this might be THE most spiritual children's book I have ever read. There's nothing to skip over, NOTHING to admonish. It's just a deep and lovely read with a meaningful message :)

I loved how each character had his own unique character. Badger was kind, Fox intelligent and courageous, Mole humble (and greedy! A vice that had its own price to pay), Kestrel focused and determined, Toad strong and perservering, Pheasant vain, Adder painfully honest, Rabbit grounded.

The writing oozes intelligence and is wonderfully imaginative. I especially enjoyed the scene where Badger collected glow worms and used them to light his inner chambers the night the animals gathered in his sett: very endearing and sweet. The story also eminated spirituality and important messages about the care and preservation of Creation, friendship, loyalty and consequences of choices, bravery, perserverence, intelligence and wisdom, kindness, mercy, virtue and admonition.

The story telling also had a nice rhythm with noticable ebbs and flows. A period of intense adventure and action would be followed by one of peace and tranquility and so on, creating interest and enjoyment. Dann's words often painted vivid and effortless pictures in my mind.

I also loved how Fox saw something positive emerge from a negative event. This showed his maturity and his spiritual eye was open; noticing how, 'All works for good...'

The courtship that took place between Fox and Vixen was admirable. I loved how Fox admired and respected Vixen's inner and outer beauty, and the way she was not quick to give her heart away, but asked him to prove himself to her before cleaving to him. It was all so virtuous and delightful; such a good example give to young minds.

I also enjoyed the message that went with every animals uniqueness: we all have a place and a part to play in life; no matter how small or large; weak or strong. I appreciated the way Dann did not shy away from adressing the realities of life: death, suffering, hardship and hunger; but met these topics head on, with hope intertwined.

A book that I could recommend to any child or parent without reserve; especially those of whom are Believers :)
Profile Image for Hande.
117 reviews17 followers
April 27, 2017
Voi sitä nostalgian määrää, jonka kirjasta voi saada: löysin teoksen vasta aikuisiällä, mutta katsoin siihen perustuvaa animaatiosarjaa lapsena. Samanaikaisesti kauhea ja ihana teos, joka piti otteessaan alusta loppuun, vaikka onkin kohdistettu lapsille.
Profile Image for Lauren.
143 reviews18 followers
September 2, 2016
The Animals of Farthing Wood is a tale about the residents of Farthing Wood's quest to move to White Deer Park after their home is bulldozed over.
Toad returns after a long journey home to discover the water has dried up. It was their luck to have the foresight that once the water was gone they'd die. They had not known about the plans to cement over the land.
The book is a traditional journey tale not only in the style of other animal books such as Watership Down, but Lord of the Rings.
They stop and they eat, then someone is in peril, they eat, etc.
If you are a fan of this genre, as I am, you will find a lot to like about this book.
However, it is not nearly as compelling as Watership Down or Frost dancers. It almost catches up to Beak of the Moon and Dark of the Moon in quality but the lack of a central character or distinguished culture of these animals makes this book not as real to me. In the aforementioned novels, Watership Down in particular, you feel deeply entrenched in the world of these animals. In Watership Down, they have set customs and rules and don't know [eerily so in Farthing Wood] much about the human existence. There were a myriad of instances where it's either remarked upon the cruelness of humans or the kindness of humans. I scoffed when Owl described the use of machinery for pesticides. That took it a bit too far.
The moral of this story is that humans are taking up all of the land and leaving nothing for our wildlife. The message was well intended, but too much made about human fellows and less about the animals.

The charm of even Beak of the Moon [it did resort to some heavy handedness about sheep] was the lives of these animals were their own.
You got to know about each animal in Farthing Wood because their name was their species and for all females, mate. Vixen, the fox's mate, showed up late to the party but was the only female given any thought. Pheasant's hen gave him a scathing look on occasion, but never chimed in an opinion.
Why must this genre be so sexist?
Are there any animal quests adventures about the girls?

Badger grated on my nerves. To me, he was pompous and overbearing, and far too concern troll over how much Mole ate.
Mole put himself down too much. I have Duncton Woods on my bookshelf to read soon. I hope moles take some back in this book when they are the leads. I found Mole adorable in this book but none of these animals got to act in their habitat. Squirrels had to crawl on the ground, the poor things, and the Rabbits constantly had to duke it out for being vegetarians. As a vegetarian myself, I was on their side.
Badger was at his worst when he crowed "I told you so" [well he did say he was right] to force the field mice and Vole to stay behind, when their babies are eaten. Farthing Wood was written many years before Frost Dancers but both had psychotic birds who killed. Frost Dancer's Bubba was more fleshed out than the Butcher Bird.

Wise Old Owl was meant to come across as an insufferable know-it-all, but the book was trying to play off that Badger knew what was best for everyone.

I've adored Foxes my whole life and I loved this Fox.
Fox and the Hare were my favourite characters in this book.
Profile Image for Lisa McIntosh.
6 reviews1 follower
June 21, 2017
Whilst a enjoyable read, I felt it went on far too long in the end and just kept thinking throughout can they just hurry up and get there now. Lovely story idea just needs to be a shortened
327 reviews30 followers
September 22, 2022
No less charming because of its brutality. It would have been interesting to see some female characters set out on their own rather than just written as mates but this is from the 70s. The only other problem is that Fox is a lot blander than other fictional foxes - even as heros I think they should have a slightly subversive or at least cheeky nature, even Disney did that - but this fox is too straight laced and unfalteringly polite in comparison.
1,148 reviews24 followers
March 22, 2012
This was a book that i treasured as a child and that i would take everywhere with me & read, until the pages were practically coming away from the spine. I adored even the front cover with all the beautiful animals that enchanted me and it was a story that i revelled in and found myself lost within something that was so poinant, exciting and adventurous. I love a story that is full of drama, action and adventure and this tale has it in abundance which was also similar to other stories that i loved as a child/ teenager such as 'The Wind in the Willows'and '101 Dalmations' and even 'Watership Down' which are all similarly beautiful adventure stories that contain animals rather than people as the central focus points. My imagination was taken on a journey of descovery into a world of rabbit dens, burrows and woods that was utterly delightful and so beautifully captured on paper that it made you feel as if you were actually there; situated in the middle of the wood whilst surrounded by all different types of woodland animals, it was just so completely realistic and authentic that proved how great a writer Colin Dann was. I adored all the compelling and exciting action and drama that which was fast-paced and left you breathless, only wanting to read on and find out more. It was also the animals as the story's characters that i grew to love and treat as indaviduals, because of their uniqueness and distinction. It is a heartwarming tale of friendship, unity and love and one that is both utterly charming & delightful that hundreds of children will love and cherish. If you are a fan of works such as the 101 Dalmations, or Watership Down or the Wind in the willows (which are all fairly similar in terms of adventure/ animal content), then you will completely love 'The Animals of Farthing Wood'. It is a book that i have cherished and loved since a young child when i first beheld it (at aged 10 or 11) and one that i still truly love just as much even now, as it is just so emotive, heartwarming and beautiful that i cannot help but keep re-reading it time and time again. Out of all the books that i loved reading as a youngster this was one of my favouriteds and one which i could not help but take much enjoyment, pleasure and delight from reading and i cannot hence enthuse enough at how utterly charming & poinant a book this is. I urge you to read this at any age as i can garuntee that it will exceed all expectations, and it is a novel that still even today holds a special place in my heart.
Profile Image for Fi's Journey.
507 reviews19 followers
January 29, 2019
The Animals of Farthing Wood has been on my Reading list for some time, and even though this one was a picture book I still enjoyed it.

Maybe later I will pick up the paperbook version. It will be interesting to know what parts were missing from the full original version.

I love animal stories and thought this one was nice but not the same to me as The Wind in the WIllows or Winnie the Pooh. It didn't had the same feel to me, although I know the animals are struggling and venture out to find this new home of theirs - it didn't had the same spark, adventure and emotional response than other animal books I've read.
Profile Image for Ian.
343 reviews24 followers
June 6, 2013
As their home of Farthing Wood is being torn down by humans, the inhabitants of the forest must put aside their differences and embark on a journey to find refuge in a natural reserve several weeks of travel away. This is the basic gist of this book which, at a first glimpse, might look like a rehash of Watership Down, except with all kinds of animals instead of just rabbits.

The story is actually quite nice for a children's book, though for me it sometimes jumps too easily between the whimsy and the gruesome (be prepared to explain the concepts of death and the food chain, if you're reading this to a small kid) and is sometimes explicitly preachy.
Also, even for 1979 it feels decidedly sexist, as all the females are relegated to the role of mates, have precious little talking parts, and, except for Vixen, they don't even get their own name.
Profile Image for Hope Jasmine.
35 reviews21 followers
December 5, 2021
Animals of Farthing Wood is a story about a large group of Animals consisting of many species and their journey to a place called White Deer Park.
This is a story i still love to this day. I first learned of this series when i watched it on video a while later i got the book and read. I've found the book better then the video's in many ways.
The characters noble Fox, honest Badger, wise Owl, happy Toad and Adder the apparently self centered Snake.
It also effortlessly and easily introduced the serious aspects of life. Especially how in everything the Animals did there was a risk of death. Poison, choking and getting ran over or almost ran over, is only a few ways that Dann shows the dangerous side to the story.
Although it can be see as sexiest when regarding the females of the story... the animation did change that though.
4 reviews
November 3, 2010
This story is about animals escaping from reclamation of the Farthing Wood where they originally inhabited. This story is written in a perspective from animals. The most curious thing in this story is that the carnivore such as fox and badger are acting as a group with herbivore such as rabbits and field mice. I like this story because this story tells the expression or thoughts of animals which we usually cannot understand. Moreover, they try to help each other even though there is a boundary between carnivore and herbivore animals. I strongly recommend this book to people who likes animals and adventure because the whole story is about animals' adventure and the story have many suspense parts.
Profile Image for Somerandom.
51 reviews20 followers
August 8, 2013
I loved Animals of Farthing Wood. I used to watch the show as a young kid. It was hardcore. Animals dying every other episode, poisoning, animals being cooked by humans, animals eating each other, a blood feud, a snake being torn in half, another snake being choked to death by a rat and so on. You know, for kids!

This book is about a group of animals who decide to go on an epic journey once their home is destroyed by humans. They decide not to eat each other and instead band together to find a new home. Along the way they encounter many perils and ultimately learn about friendship and courage.

It's a great conversation starter for kids and an interesting look into animals and how encroachment of humans can affect them.
Profile Image for Kirsti.
2,456 reviews83 followers
April 5, 2016
Seriously, why does this book have so little reviews? This was one of my absolute favorites growing up, both in book form and the awesome TV show. I just wish there was a more readily available DVD version, so I could watch it completely again!

Basically this book shares many characteristics with other childhood favorites of mine; animals that speak and don't act like animals, animals escaping danger at the hands of humans, and epic storytelling. A fantastic book, and actually the start of a really great series. I have long tried to hunt down the rest of the books, but I only own three. Maybe I should make that my buying goal for the year?

Five stars!
12 reviews
June 26, 2012
This book is about a group of different animals that live in the forest called Farthingwood. Humans are trying to cut their forest down, and they must escape, leaving their comfort zone and home. They wondered out to find a new home and through their journey they encounter lots of danger. The animals show courage and friendship, by always helping each other and finding a way out of their troubles. A great book to show the importance of friendship and good relations, also a great look into how animals may feel when forests and habitats are being destroyed…
Profile Image for Kirsty.
614 reviews104 followers
July 15, 2019
This was one of my favourite cartoons as a child. I also read some of the books when I was a young, so I decided to pick this up in audiobook format for a nostalgic treat. I loved every second of it! I could remember some scenes very clearly, yet others were pleasant surprises. I recommend this for young and old alike, and it's definitely a great audiobook to sit and listen to together.
1,948 reviews17 followers
February 28, 2015
This is a beautiful book aimed at children, detailing the destruction of Farthing wood and the migration of the animals living there to a new safe place to live. Teamwork, co-operation and a respect for life is taught in a magnificent story.
Profile Image for Rachel.
104 reviews
September 18, 2019
I read this as a child around the time of the fox hunting debate. Foxes were always my favourite animal, and having some positive representation for them in this book made me very happy. Not always a happy book, but very good for nature lovers.
Profile Image for Emma.
616 reviews134 followers
August 22, 2021
I love how Dann weaved through so many environmental issues into this adventure without it being preachy. I thought I knew a lot about conservation but even I've come away from the book with a new perspective.
One star lost due to its representation of women (aka none, just mothers and mates).
Profile Image for Daniel B.
57 reviews
January 28, 2023
The Animals of Farthing Wood – Colin Dann

This one is pure nostalgia driven, I spotted this in a charity shop a while ago and grabbed it like my life depended on it. The Animals of Farthing Wood were such a big part of my early childhood, I watched the TV series on CBBC, had the kids book collection, one of which is also pictured, and still have the annuals that came out at the time. I loved The Animals of Farthing Wood so when I saw I had to get the book it was all based on.

The story follows a group of animals, led by Fox, as they make the decision to leave their home behind. People are bulldozing Farthing Wood to make room for new houses and Toad has just returned with news of a nature reserve where the group can live without fear.

The animals make a pact to protect each other, predators and prey alike. As the animals make their journey to White Deer Park, they encounter various obstacles that endanger their lives such as fires, hunters and other predators.

I loved every second of this book, it may be the fond memories of it but it was just a lovely story of a group, putting aside their nature’s to protect each other and ensure their own survival. The group comes together to overcome anything in their path. There are sad points and the feeling that it might not work out for them all but overall it’s just a heart warming story and it offered some happy memories of childhood!
Profile Image for Hayley.
298 reviews5 followers
August 22, 2022
I've been told that I used to love this series when I was younger. I do remember collecting the Farthing Wood Friends magazines - each one focused on a different animal and apparently I used to be able to name them all in order. So I read this book for nostalgic reasons. Having said that, I remembered next to nothing of this story.

The animals are forced out of their home in the woods when human start developing the land. There starts their journey to White Deer Park, a safe haven in the form of a nature reserve. Led by Fox and Badger, the group travel across the land, facing a number of challenges and hardships along the way.

This is perhaps a book for older children, being a bit longer (320 pages) and covering some darker topics (death, hunting etc).

Despite the 3*, I did like this book. I would probably listen to the audiobook again, as it seems like it would be good background listening.
Profile Image for Claire.
28 reviews
August 6, 2022
I used to love watching the cartoon when I was little but never read the book. I enjoyed this, it was sad in places but really heart warming and the story gripped me from the start. Loved how the animals banded together. Reminded me a lot of The Incredible Journey.

A very important read too, touching on conservation and preservation.

So glad I finally read it, heading off now to find the cartoon to give that a rewatch.
Profile Image for Olli-Pekka.
258 reviews4 followers
July 27, 2019
7- ja 9-vuotiaalle tytölle iltasatuna luettuna tämä oli yksi parhaista satukirjoista. Seikkailu oli hetkittäin hauska, läpi kirjan vetävä ja enimmäkseen niin jännittävä, etteivät tytöt olisi halunneet koskaan lopettaa sadun lukemista. Myös aikuinen viihtyi tämän parissa.
Profile Image for Marjolein.
163 reviews3 followers
May 25, 2018
It was wonderful to jump back in the world of these animals. I watched the cartoon tv-show 'Beestenbos is boos' religiously as a child. The book brought back memories!
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