Save Pudding Wood!

Here is column in the current issue of the Countryman.  

I read two rather different books last week.  Or, to be more accurate, I read one myself, the other was read to me by my five year old daughter, Esther.

My own choice was NW by Zadie Smith, a great London novel with only a couple of fleeting references to the countryside.  Jamaican-born Marcia “had been to the ‘countryside’ and did not consider it a safe environment, preferring London, where at least you knew what you were up against.”  That was before the murder of Stephen Lawrence.  Marcia’s daughter is Natalie: “A city animal, she did not have the name for anything natural.”

One character, however, does connect.  Phil says: “A bit of green is very powerful, Felix.  Very powerful.  ‘Specially in England.  Even us Londoners born and bred, we need it, we get it up the Heath, don’t we, we crave it.  Even our little park here is important.  Bit of green.  In some melodious plot/ Of beechen green, and shadows numberless…  Name that verse!  “Ode to a Nightingale”!  Very famous poem that.  Keats.  Londoner he was, you see.”

The second book gives hope that the next generation will grow up to feel that nature and the countryside are important.  Save Pudding Wood is part of the Oxford Reading Tree ‘Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper’ series.  It is a great book! 

Chip and Craig go to Pudding Wood and enjoy seeing the birds and animals, but are shocked when their friend Wilma gives them bad news:

“‘They want to chop it down and put up houses.’… ‘Could they?’ said Biff.  ‘Would they? said Mum.  ‘They couldn’t,’ said Gran.  ‘I think they could,’ said Wilman’s dad.”

Before long the families organise a protest meeting, and Craig shows his slides of bluebells and deer and birds.  They march on the town hall, and before long “there was good news.  Pudding Wood was saved.  ‘I should think so, too,’ said Biff.  The birds and animals need Pudding Wood.’  ‘We need Pudding Wood too,’ said Craig.”

If only it was as easy as that!  But I take heart from the fact that five year olds are learning to read from books like Save Pudding Wood.  Who knows, it may be helping forge the conservationists and campaigners of the future.  




1 Response to “Save Pudding Wood!”

  1. 1 Jim Conboy August 19, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Perhaps you could help us save Mantles, Farthing & Jones Hill ancient woods ? Including them on your HS2 ‘Landscape Map’ would help –

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