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How the Heather Looks: A Joyous Journey to the British Sources of Children's Books Hardcover – March 27, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0771011184 ISBN-10: 0771011180

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart (March 27, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771011180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771011184
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #614,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“If we are lucky, our minds are furnished with the words and stories that spring from the English earth – the winds that wuthered around the Secret Garden, Ratty’s riverbank, the magic isle of Avalon, Pook’s Hill, and the Swallows and Amazons’ Wildcat Island. To journey back with Joan Bodger as a guide is a rare treat – she winkles out wonderful literary connections at every turn. You’d have to be made of stone not to feel the old enchantment stirring again. Bodger’s prose is tart with humour and warm with intelligence – and the whole venture is sparked with the fresh wonderment of seeing the ancient story-places through her children’s eyes.”
–Michele Landsberg

“For anyone who loves Britain or English literature, especially children’s literature…it was one of the greatest pleasures of the publishing season.”
Horn Book

“A feast for any lover of English children’s books.”
Christian Herald

“One of the most satisfying rambles we have taken in years.”
Mademoiselle

From the Inside Flap

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 they stood outside Robert Louis Stevenson?s childhood home, tilting their heads to talk to a lamplighter who was doing his job. In the Lake District they visited Jemima Puddle-Duck?s farm, and Joan sought out crusty Arthur Ransome to talk to him about Swallows and Amazons. They spent several days ?messing about in boats? on the River Thames, looking for Toad Hall and other places described by Kenneth Grahame in The Wind in the Willows. Mud and flood kept them from attaining the slopes of Pook?s Hill (on Rudyard Kipling?s farm), but they scaled the heights of Tintagel. As in all good fairy tales, there were unanswered questions. Did they really find Camelot? Robin Hood, as always, remains elusive.

One thing is certain. Joan Bodger brings alive again 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 looks.?

First published in 1965 by Viking in New York, How the Heather Looks has become a prized favorite among knowledgeable lovers of children?s literature. Precious, well-thumbed copies have been lent out with caution and reluctance, while new admirers have gone searching in vain for copies to buy second-hand. This handsome reprint, with a new Afterword by Joan Bodger, makes a unique and delightful classic available once more.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By J. Rizzo on October 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is a rare gem for anyone who truly believes that children's books matter. Joan Bodger writes engagingly about her family's journey to Britain to discover the places and landscapes that inspired the writers of their favorite children's books, including Kenneth Grahame, A. A. Milne, Beatrix Potter, Rudyard Kipling and others. Pooling the family's talents (the author's passion for stories, her husband's research skills and her children's imaginations) they set off on a summer-long adventure scouring the back roads and villages of England to find prototypes for Toad Hall, the Hundred Acre Wood, King Arthur's Camelot and more. This is a book that opens up remarkable possibilities for travelling with children and for honoring the world of childhood. A far cry from Disneyland...
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By LonestarReader VINE VOICE on January 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you love children's books and/or are an Anglophile at heart, you will love this book. The Bodger family is on a quest around England to find Pooh's Enchanted Place, Toad Hall and other places from classic British children's books. In addition to enjoying their literary discoveries, I enjoyed Joan Bodger's descriptions of the special challenges of traveling with young children. Food, laundry, and places for their children to play are as important as locating Beatrix Potter's farm. While reading this book I felt as if I were on a vacation with some very good friends. I loved this book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I would recommend this book to anyone- as a read-aloud, a travel book, or just something to read to yourself. Mrs. Bodger & her family truly loved English lit., and her love for it shines through. In this book you will discover Narnia, Beatrix Potter's country, Kipling's "Puck of Pook's Hill" ( a delightful look at old England) and many other such treasures. Mrs. Bodger's writing style is clear, her family wonderful- and the subject, English children's literature- will always be fantastic.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
You're enjoyment of "How the Heather Looks" may be in direct proportion to your ability to instantly recall scenes from classic British children's books. And not just the "classic" classics, mind you, but some rather obscure works indeed, classic for their quality instead of their familiarity. Do you know the illustrated verses of Randolph Caldecott? How about Arthur Ransome's "Swallows and Amazons" or Kipling's "Puck of Pook's Hill?"
I found that my interest waxed and waned along with my familiarity. I was thrilled to go to Tintagel and Sherwood Forest in search of King Arthur and Robin Hood. I delighted to visit with Mrs. Millne in the Hundred Acre Wood of Winnie the Pooh. Toad Hall and Rat's Riverbank are well-traveled terrain. Less so are the lands of The Borrower's, or the Gypsy Caravans or Pook's Hill. (I winced when they drove past Anlwick Castle without stoping. They missed out on quite an experience.)
The writing is very much like that of a person keeping a journal. Details do not fit into a story, and the narrative drifts along with the same randomness of the family. The only voice is Joan Bodger's, and her husband and children are foils for her to act upon.
All in all, it is a very pleasant little book that I enjoyed reading. I know I would have enjoyed it more if I had a library of British children's literature to browse through for familiarity.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a delightful book. (I read the earlier edition, and I am glad that it is back in print). I recommend it to anyone who is interested in England, children's literature or the pleasures and problems of traveling with young children. I have visited many of the places described and find that the book brings back many happy memories.
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