The book seemed to be set between the wars and in hindsight felt like an English version of Huckleberry Finn. Three brothers decided to spend the summer in the woods near their house. I think two initially planned but ended up taking the youngest with them as well. They set up a small camp and salted a pig so they had food for the summer. They saw a night heron down by a river. They met an old man who lived in a house made from faggots, they were initially very scared of the old guy, but eventually saw him as no threat and made friends. He taught them how to smoke his pipe as they'd seen him smoking and were curious. I think they may also have lost some of their food to what they thought was a bear but ended up being a badger, that might have been a beehive that they came across.

I read the book in around 1985 but it was clearly written much earlier than this. I think it's called Bear Woods but I may have conflated that with a local area of the same name. The version I had was blue cloth no dustcover and had some beautiful white on black illustrations. Nobody I know as an adult has ever heard of it and maybe my google-fu is terrible but I've failed to find it anywhere online either. It's clearly a children's book, but not in the sense of a picture book with a few simple sentences. It's a coming of age story which I would love to revisit.

  • 1
    Brendon Chase, perhaps?
    – Mick
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 17:18
  • Absolute genius, thankyou so very much. Please tell me that was buried in your head rather than a quick google, because I've been looking on and off for years
    – cockbeard
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 10:09
  • This is how I did it. ;)
    – Mick
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 20:20
  • hahaha, I have utterly failed, but I'#m going to pretend that google reindexed a few months ago and those results were never there before ;) Anyway, honest;y proper thankyou for this
    – cockbeard
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 8:29
  • You're welcome. :-)
    – Mick
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 12:39

1 Answer 1


This is almost certainly Brendon Chase by BB.

His books are very hard to get now (at least where I live) but you may be able to find the TV series based on it, which stayed quite true to the book.

The book is about three boys who go live in the woods (Brendon Chase) to escape their aunt. Robin and John, the older two, go first and later fetch Harold, the youngest, who had had measles. The old man is Smokoe Joe.

As you can see there it was written in 1944.

  • I don't know what the etiquette is when someone has already posted the correct answer in the comments? If I should remove this and let @Mick answer I will do so.
    – Mirte
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 10:36
  • 2
    I think it's SE policy that taking answers from comments is okay. You may want to add some explanation of why this matches the question, though.
    – Mithical
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 10:39
  • @Mithrandir, I knew the answer already, having watched the series, or else I wouldn't have posted at all.
    – Mirte
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 10:41
  • 2
    Then it's definitely fine. If Mick wanted to get the first answer, he should have posted an answer instead of a comment. You're not "stealing" anything.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 10:44
  • 1
    Hi Mirte, I just wanted to wait and see if Mick wanted the answer before marking one correct. Thanks to all, I now have a copy of a very old winging it's way to me and will be very nostalgic in a few weeks
    – cockbeard
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 8:30

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