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When the Wind Blows [Paperback]

Raymond Briggs
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 Sep 1986
Raymond Briggs' now famous bestselling comic cartoon book depicts the effects of a neuclear attack on an elderly couple in his usual humorous yet macabre way.

Frequently Bought Together

When the Wind Blows + Ethel & Ernest + Fungus the Bogeyman
Price For All Three: £18.87

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  • Ethel & Ernest £6.99
  • Fungus the Bogeyman £5.59

Product details

  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (25 Sep 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140094199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140094190
  • Product Dimensions: 21.9 x 30 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 31,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Raymond Briggs is one of the foremost creators of illustrated books for adults and children, including the unforgettable The Snowman and Father Christmas.


THE BOOKSRaymond Briggs' parents have proved an important source of inspiration to the author/artist. His father was a milkman; his mother a former lady's maid. Raymond's unique characterisation of Father Christmas is based on his father - "Father Christmas and the milkman both have wretched jobs: working in the cold, wet and dark." His parents also influenced the character of Jim and Hilda, the victims of nuclear fall-out, in When The Wind Blows.

Raymond left school aged 15 to study painting at Wimbledon School of Art. After completing a typography course at the Central School of Art, and two years of National Service, Raymond went on to the Slade School to study painting. His first work was in advertising, but before long he was winning acclaim as a children's book illustrator as well as teaching illustration at Brighton College of Art.

Raymond was awarded the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1966 for his fourth picture book, The Mother Goose Treasury, and again in 1973 for Father Christmas. Published in 1978, The Snowman is perhaps Raymond's best-loved creation. He says that the book was partly inspired by its predecessor, Fungus The Bogeyman - "For two years I worked on Fungus, buried amongst muck, slime and words, so... I wanted to do something which was clean, pleasant, fresh and wordless and quick."Born: Wimbledon Park, January 18th 1934*Jobs: Artist, WriterLives: SussexFirst Book for Children: The Strange House, 1961*Raymond shares his birthday with A A Milne and Arthur Ransome

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving tale 4 Feb 2001
By John Peter O'connor VINE VOICE
This graphical novel is set in England during the Regan-Thatcher years of the early eighties. It covers the final days of Jim and Hilda Bloggs as they are caught up in a global nuclear war.
In Britain at this time there was much public concern over the increased tension between NATO and the Warsaw pact nations and the deployment of short range nuclear weapons by both blocs raised these tensions. In this atmosphere, the British government published a set of leaflets setting out what precautions could be taken by the public to reduce the effects of a nuclear strike.
In this book, we see an ordinary English couple attempt to follow the guidance in the leaflets and we follow their fate after a war. Alone, confused and dying from radiation sickness, they cling to their hopes that, by "doing the right thing" they will be OK and the authorities will come and take care of them.
The author introduces just enough levity to give Jim and Hilda humanity and to make their tale bearable. While Jim and Hilda may not be the smartest folk around, they are the thoroughly decent folks that you would always be happy to have neighbours and that fact brings the horror of the story home.
Although the threats that inspired this book have receded, it still carries a message that is important and deeply moving.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
This book both and scared and fascinated me in equal measure upon reading it as a child. I remember feeling at that age (about thirteen) that I had truly discovered the power of storytelling. Set in an England ravaged by Nuclear war, When the Wind Blows is told through the innocence of an elderly man and his wife, who don't really understand the impact of what is happening. This makes the message all the more brutal and frightening, a real warning against the finality of such a war. A bit strong for children, but essential reading all the same.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The most harrowing comic book imaginable 17 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Written in the 80's, a time when nuclear war seemed to be an altogether too realistic possibility, this book is astonishingly brutal. The pages begin vibrant with colour and gradually fade to the whitewash of sickness, whilst the characters naive sensibilities and inability to understand that this war is different to the last one make the story unbearable. The fear is apparent throughout, but the reader knows that in this case ignorance is bliss. The Government's suggestions to hide behind a shelter made of doors are useless, but at least these people feel like they are doing something. The truth is, there is nothing they can do. Everyone should read this book, although it is the most upsetting book you will ever encounter.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only comic that made me cry 28 Mar 2007
By o86p
I found this book completely by accident when my parents were sorting out their house and read it that night. I was brought to tears by the story. Jim and Hilda Bloggs are a typical retired couple living in rural Sussex during the height of the Cold War in the early 1980s. They reminicse on their experiences of WW2 through rose tinted glasses while building their own fall out shelter, following the government guidelines to the letter, even when the instructions contradict themselves.

The first half of the book is pretty much a black comedy as Jim and Hilda try and understand what's going on, but the second half is gut wrenching as they suffer the effects of radiation sickness, still believing that someone come and help them. Brigg's style changes accordingly, starting bright and colourful like his other stories but then going to a deathly pallor as the radiation becomes more prevalent before fading to black.

It's beautifully told and thought provoking. Jim and Hilda (based very much on Brigg's own parents) are probably like people you know and sometimes you feel like shaking the book to make them understand, but instead you just have to keep on reading, no matter how it makes you feel.
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60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will change you 13 April 2002
By A Customer
I too was a teenager when I first read this book. It was back in the 80's and we were all paranoid about the bomb. Jim and Hilda are so like my grandparents, it added to the difficulty of reading this book.
Brigg's illustrations are so factual that you believe you are there. The minute details, like in Father Christmas and The Snowman, remind you that this is little old England.
The book oozes with bulldog spirit and optimism as much as ignorance and soul destroying pessimism.
The graphic effects are amazing. Normallity is interrupted by dramatic views of the machinery of war.
Jim remembers the blitz almost with fondness, and reflects on the fickleness of war, "of course then the Ruskies were on our side".
The final pages, Jims attempt at the Lords Prayer, I can't read anymore. I am normally too tearful and so sickened.
I am very glad to see it back in print, a couple of years ago I had Amazon hunt down a 2nd hand copy, even at collectors price this haunting beautiful fable was well worth it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A minute's silent Thumbs Up. 24 April 2012
This is a fantastic work by Raymond Briggs who is better known for The Snowman, Father Christmas and Fungus the Bogeyman. This is a much darker tale however and probably not for children. It concerns an elderly couple and what happens to them when a nuclear war breaks out.

They take precautions, follow all the government advice and try to do what is expected of them. They soon discover this is nothing like the last war and blind faith and British pluck are no use to them.

This is a sad and moving tale and a very realistic portrayal of the fear of nuclear war that was palpable in the 1980's. They are a doddery old couple, set in their ways and a bit fluffy in the head but they are so harmless that you love them. You can easily see your grandparents, aunts and uncles or your future self in them and want nothing bad to happen.

There is a bigger picture here. They are called Mr and Mrs Bloggs and are the ultimate everyman showing you the horrors that would befall you if the unthinkable came. What is most impressive is the introduction. There are quotes from newspapers, media personalities of the time and countless members of parliament (including Tony Benn), a couple of peers and a quote from the Hansard when it was raised in parliament. This shows you the impact it had at the time.

If you are under 30 you won't know what it was like to live under the shadow of the bomb and may miss out on the resonance of this work. Thanks to the skill of the writer you will however experience the sense of growing dread that overtakes Jim and Hilda Bloggs. The art is excellent matching the author's other books and embodies the twee and pastel quality of rural England. The panels are quite small for the most part with the odd full page drawing for impact. There are also some clever tricks to illustrate the bomb dropping.

A minute's silent Thumbs Up.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
All good
Published 6 days ago by marksharry
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful story.
Raymond Briggs tells this tragic story so well. Government advice shown up to be the sort of rubbish politicians dish up to us all ! Buy this, it's really good.
Published 3 months ago by Nick
5.0 out of 5 stars Best comic book anyone will ever see
This book is amazing. It is almost scary the way the couple act in the situation, it is very comical and it gives the message of war in such a way that everyone, even youngsters,... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dr Paul M Monk
5.0 out of 5 stars m.a.d.
having read father Christmas by Raymond briggs I was looking forward to this . a bleak reminder of the cold war and of what might have happened
Published 5 months ago by Mr. James S. Edmondson
4.0 out of 5 stars beautiful and devastating
perfect book to introduce genre of visual narratives in the classroom and deals with historical topic to boot. next i'll get them reading Maus
Published 9 months ago by john o neill
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, yet heartbreaking!
Another truly breath-taking Raymond Briggs story. The illustrations are lovely and the story is extremely well written and you feel like you are there with the couple. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Rach9686
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have
I absolutely love this story. From the first words written you fall in love with this sweet innocent elderly couple. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Miss Lisa
5.0 out of 5 stars A*
I remembered going to see this in at the theatre when i was a child. The book brought back memories. A very powerful and moving book.
Published 18 months ago by tash
5.0 out of 5 stars When the wind blows
Raymond Briggs' excellent work as always. I had this book many years ago and forgot just how poignant it is even today.
Published 19 months ago by Pam Meakin
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful book
I first read this many years ago, but it still resonates. How does he do it? I cared about the central characters, whilst wanting to shake them out of their simple, unswerving... Read more
Published 20 months ago by A Hughes
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