How the Heather Looks

I love the fake vintage cover!
How the Heather Looks: A Joyous Journey to the British Sources of Children's Books, by Joan Bodger

In 1957, a little family came into some money, enough to spend a summer abroad.  Both husband and wife were half-English and had grown up on the British classics, and they wanted to introduce their young children to the real places that had inspired the literature.  So they spent a summer traveling around England, finding Caldecott's villages and farms, Christopher Robin's woods, Mrs. Tiggywinkle's farmhouse, Rat's house on the river, and King Arthur's castle.  Or as close as they could get, anyway.

Each chapter is dedicated to one author and a section of the trip.  Bodger casts these episodes as quests, while keeping the real-life frustrations that befell them.   She is a marvelous writer and manages to evoke the atmosphere of each classic story and each landscape.  She also packs a lot in; this is not a short book, and she lingers over each section, describing everything in wonderful detail.  Lovers of children's classic literature will be satisfied. 

How the Heather Looks was originally published in the 1960s, but happily there is now a reprint available.  It was one of those books that hardly anyone knew, but those who did guarded their copies jealously. 

The major drawback of reading this is that it makes you want to drop everything and head off to the UK so you, too, can boat on the Thames and play Poohsticks on the original bridge.  So, beware!


  1. I read this book about 10 years ago and loved it. It introduced me for the first time to Arthur Ransome and his Swallows and Amazons series, which have become some of my favourite children's books of all time.

    And you're right. It does make you want to pack your bags and head off to England. It's a nice dream to have though …… :-)

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  4. Wasn't it? ;-)

    I don't know how that happened! I just looked and there were three! Since my comment was so profound and intellectual, I could have left all three but I hoped one would suffice to draw the depth of meaning from my words …. :-) Ha ha!

  5. This sounds lovely! I'm going to see if I can obtain a copy for myself, as it sounds like the sort of book I'll love and want to start giving as gifts to all and sundry.

  6. I own this book and love it but boy was it depressing to find out what happened to the family afterwards.

  7. Wasn't it just? I kind of wish I didn't know all that part.


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