A Day No Pigs Would Die

( 99 )

Overview

"With plenty of Yankee common sense and dry wit, and some pathos as the boy at 13 takes on the duties of a man. For boys of this age and for the young of any age."—School Library Journal.

To a thirteen-year-old Vermont farm boy whose father slaughters pigs for a living, maturity comes early as he learns "doing what's got to be done," especially regarding his pet pig who cannot produce a litter.

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A Day No Pigs Would Die

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Overview

"With plenty of Yankee common sense and dry wit, and some pathos as the boy at 13 takes on the duties of a man. For boys of this age and for the young of any age."—School Library Journal.

To a thirteen-year-old Vermont farm boy whose father slaughters pigs for a living, maturity comes early as he learns "doing what's got to be done," especially regarding his pet pig who cannot produce a litter.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Reading this book is like sipping hot cider in front of a crackling potbellied stove. Every page is suffused with wit and charm and glowing with warmth.”–Newsweek

“A lovely book. . . . Honest, moving, homely in the warm and simple sense of the word. . . . It is small, accepting and loving and it succeeds perfectly.”–Boston Globe

“You’ll find yourself caught up in the novel’s emotion from the very opening scene. . . . Love suffuses every page.”–The New York Times

"With plenty of Yankee common sense and dry wit, and some pathos as the boy at 13 takes on the duties of a man. For boys of this age and for the young of any age."—School Library Journal.

School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Originally published in 1972, Richard Peck's classic about hardscrabble farm life in Vermont and the too early entrance into adulthood for nearly 13-year-old Rob is still relevant today. Matters of life and death are treated in a straightforward manner, and the values shared in the story still ring true. Narrator Lincoln Hoppe gets it just right, from the pure joy of Rob receiving his piglet Pinky as a reward for a neighborly good deed to the heart-wrenching climax. There is a graphic scene involving the mating of Pinky to a neighbor's boar that could be upsetting to younger children. However, every young adult should be familiar with this poignant, powerful story.—Ann Brownson, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780606069045
  • Publisher: San Val, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/1/1994
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Robert Newton Peck comes from generations of Yankee farmers. Like the Vermont folk he writes about in his novel, he was raised as a boy in the Shaker Way, which endured even after the sect itself had died out. Its view of life is embodied in the character of his young protagonist's father, who believed that a faith is more blessed when put to use than when put to word: "A man's worship counts for naught, unless his dog and cat are the better for it."

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Read an Excerpt

I should have been in school that April day.
But instead I was up on the ridge near the old spar mine above our farm, whipping the gray trunk of a rock maple with a dead stick, and hating Edward Thatcher. During recess, he’d pointed at my clothes and made sport of them. Instead of tying into him, I’d turned tail and run off. And when Miss Malcom rang the bell to call us back inside, I was halfway home.
Picking up a stone, I threw it into some bracken ferns, hard as I could. Someday that was how hard I was going to light into Edward Thatcher, and make him bleed like a stuck pig. I’d kick him from one end of Vermont to the other, and sorry him good. I’d teach him not to make fun of Shaker ways. He’d never show his face in the town of Learning, ever again. No, sir.
A painful noise made me whip my head around and jump at the same time. When I saw her, I knew she was in bad trouble.
It was the big Holstein cow, one of many, that belonged to our near neighbor, Mr. Tanner. This one he called “Apron” because she was mostly black, except for the white along her belly which went up her front and around her neck like a big clean apron. She was the biggest cow, Mr. Tanner told Papa, and his best milker. And he was fixing up to take her to Rutland Fair, come summer.
As I ran toward her, she made her dreadful noise again. I got close up and saw why. Her big body was pumping up and down, trying to have her calf. She’d fell down and there was blood on her foreleg, and her mouth was all thick and foamy with yellow-green spit. I tried to reach my hand out and pat her head; but she was wild-eyed mean, and makingthis breezy noise almost every breath.
Turning away from me, she showed me her swollen rump. Her tail was up and arched high, whipping through the air with every heave of her back. Sticking out of her was the head and one hoof of her calf. His head was so covered with blood and birth sop that I had no way of telling he was alive or dead. Until I heard him bawl.
Apron went crashing through the puckerbush, me right behind. I’d never caught up. But because she had to stop and strain, I got to the calf’s head and got a purchase on him.
He was so covered with slime, and Apron was so wandering, there was no holding to it. Besides, being just twelve years old, I weighed a bit over a hundred pounds. Apron was comfortable over a thousand, and it wasn’t much of a tug for her. As I went down, losing my grip on the calf’s neck, her hoof caught my shinbone and it really smarted. The only thing that made me get up and give the whole idea another go was when he bawled again.
I’d just wound up running away from Edward Thatcher and running away from the schoolhouse. I was feathered if I was going to run away from one darn more thing.
I needed a rope. But there wasn’t any, so I had to make one. It didn’t have to be long, just strong.
Chasing old Apron through the next patch of prickers sure took some fun out of the whole business. I made my mistake of trying to take my trousers off as I ran. No good. So I sat down in the prickers, yanked ‘em off over my boots, and caught up to Apron. After a few bad tries, I got one pantleg around her calf’s head and knotted it snug.
“Calf,” I said to him, “you stay up to your ma’s hindside and you’re about to choke. So you might as well choke getting yourself born.”
Whatever old Apron decided that I was doing to her back yonder, she didn’t take kindly to it. So she started off again with me in the rear, hanging on to wait Christmas, and my own bare butt and privates catching a thorn with every step. And that calf never coming one inch closer to coming out. But when Apron stopped to heave again I got the other pantleg around a dogwood tree that was about thick as a fencepost.
Now only three things could happen: My trousers would rip. Apron would just uproot the tree. The calf would slide out.
But nothing happened. Apron just stood shaking and heaving and straining and never moved forward a step. I got the other pantleg knotted about the dogwood; and like Apron, I didn’t know what to do next.
Her calf bawled once more, making a weaker noise than before. But all Apron did was
heave in that one place.
“You old bitch,” I yelled at her, grabbing a dead blackberry cane that was as long as a bullwhip and big around as a broom handle, “you move that big black smelly ass, you hear?”
I never hit anybody, boy or beast, as I hit that cow. I beat her so hard I was crying. Where I held the big cane, the thorns were chewing up my hands real bad. But it only got me madder.
I kicked her. And stoned her. I kicked her again one last time, so hard in the udder that I thought I heard her grunt. Both her hind quarters sort of hunkered down in the brush. Then she started forward, my trousers went tight, I heard a rip and a calf bawl. And a big hunk of hot stinking stuff went all over me. Some of it was calf, some of it wasn’t.
As I went down under the force and weight of it, I figured something either got dead or got born.
All I knew was that I was snarled up in a passel of wet stuff, and there was a strong cord holding me against something that was very hot and kicked a lot. I brushed some of the slop away from my eyes and looked up. And there was Apron, her big black head and her big black mouth licking first me and her calf.
But she was far from whole. Her mouth was open and she was grasping for air. She stumbled once. I thought for sure I was going to wind up being under a very big cow. The noise in her throat came at me again, and her tongue lashed to and fro like a tail of a clock. It looked to me as if there was something in her mouth. She would start to breathe and then, like a cork in a bottle, some darn thing in there would cut it off.
Her big body swayed like she was dizzy or sick. As the front of her fell to her knees, her head hit my chest as I lay on the ground, her nose almost touching my chin. She had stopped breathing!
Her jaw was locked open so I put my hand in her mouth, but felt only her swollen tongue. I stretched my fingers up into her throat- and there it was! A hard ball, about apple-size. It was stuck in her windpipe, or her gullet. I didn’t know which and didn’t care. So I shut my eyes, grabbed it, and yanked.
Somebody told me once that a cow won’t bite. That somebody is as wrong as sin on Sunday. I thought my arm had got sawed off part way between elbow and shoulder. She bit and bit and never let go. She got to her feet and kept on biting.
That devil cow ran down off that ridge with my arm in her mouth, and dragging me half-naked with her. What she didn’t do to me with her teeth, she did with her front hoofs.
It should have been broad daylight, but it was night. Black night. As black and bloody and bad as getting hurt again and again cold ever be.
It just went on and on. It didn’t quit.

Copyright 1994 by Robert Newton Peck
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 99 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(44)

4 Star

(33)

3 Star

(11)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(7)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 99 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Blank

    This book is one of my favorites. Its about a boy how is rewarded a pig by Mr, Tanner. He cares for until it is butchered. By the end of the story you find why the title is the title.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2007

    A heart wrenching story of growing up.

    I first started reading this book in 10th grade. My friends found this book to be completely boring and this book happen to banned for some particular reason. I think these people completely misunderstood the book. This book is really amazing. From the very first page, it captures you. It is a really captivating book. I found myself crying over and over again. I loved the way Robert Newton Peck usess his words. I could actually feel the emotions of the character's. I cried during sad times and laughed during the fun times. Your emotions seems to go along with our main character, Robert. I really loved the relationship between Robert, Haven and Pinky. This is an outstanding book. Its really heartwrenching and I had a really good time reading it. You guys should give this book a try. I'm positively sure that you will enjoy it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2007

    A Lesson 2 Remember

    A Day no Pigs Would Die is a great book for anyone interested in reading a short story of joy, sorrow, the many diffrent ways of people, and an autobiography. This book is based on the events of the author- Robert N. Peck's- childhood life at the age of twelve. Young Robert is taught the ways of the Peck traditions and how to be a farmer by his father who sadly dies in this book.I just couldn't beleive how young he was 'along with others his age in Learning, Vermont' to be able to shoot a shotgun or to become an actual farmer as opposed to being a farm boy. It's a very hartwrenching tale of this man's hard life growing up. I'd recommend it to anyone ranging from the ages of twelve to fifteen. Anyone younger wouldn't fully grasp the concept of the story.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 1999

    A Day No Pigs Would Die

    I thought the book was good. I had different feelings about this book because sometimes I laughed and sometimes I nearly cried. I thought that my parents were hard on me, but I don't have to wake up every morning and do chores. I would not like to be in Roberts shoes. I felt sorry for Robert because he lost his only pet. I thought it was funny when Pinkey was chasing the frog. I think Robert was scared when the hawk came down at full speed because he thought it was going to hit him. Before I read this book, I didn't know about the Shaker way of life. Now I do. I did not know how you could tell a pig was in heat until I read this book. I am looking forward to reading the sequel - A Part Of The Sky.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 1999

    An Exellent Book

    I enjoyed A Day No Pigs Would Die very much. Some things in the book were very funny, others were very sad. I almost cried at the last part when Robert went into the barn and found his father, but I knew that everyone would make fun of me so I held it back.I was also about to cry when they had to kill Pinky. I do not blame Haven Peck, though, for killing Pinky because I know that it had to be done. I felt very sorry for Robert because I know how loosing a pet feels. I was hopping that Haven was wrong about him going to die .I did not really like the end of the book because it left you not knowing what happened to the Pecks after Papa died. I am glad thre was a sequel to the book, but it too was very sad. I would recomend this book to everyone who likes to read. I don't think that this book would be very good for younger kids, though.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2013

    A day no pigs will die

    This is a great book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2013

    Review:

    I am very suprised at the bad reviews I belive the only reason for bad reviews is because some dont understand the REAL lives of early shakers...This is a great book and i hope people read it and i suggest reading the sequal after you read this book.I am thirteen and am mature enough to read the book and understand the important moral the story teaches.I reccomend this book to teen readers and adult readers because the book glues you to its pages and puts you in real life situations.
    -Megan
    P.S. some of you reviewers need to grow up!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2013

    A Day No Pigs Would Die

    The most interesting book that kept me wanting to read more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2013

    Loved it

    I really liked the story i just had to get the next one to fgure out what came next

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2012

    READ THIS PLEASE!!!:)

    Could someone tell me what it is about.I do not get it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    I didnt read it!

    I didnt read it yet so i would lile it if you people can write reviews of how it is. And what do you think the ages are for this book. I would appriciate it if you people write a review about my questions. Thanks!

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  • Posted July 27, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A Day No Pigs Would Die is a compelling book. It's extremely sad

    A Day No Pigs Would Die is a compelling book. It's extremely sad and heart breaking to read. I definitely cried toward the end. As a vegetarian and animal lover, it was very hard to read some of the passages here. That doesn't take away the amazing story of compassion and endurance in this novel.

    While I am certainly surprised by the low ratings of this book, I can understand it. The themes and descriptions in this story could easily be considered controversial. But they are realistic. They are not meant to shock or to provoke. This is real life. The author doesn't sugar coat the grim realities of a Shaker family.

    Again, I am impressed by how certain authors can write so much in such few pages. There are so many descriptions and emotions in this book. I definitely recommend this novel to young adults and adults alike.

    4.5 stars, which rounds to 5 stars.

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  • Posted June 25, 2012

    it was okay. This book was a good book but not worthy of 5 stars

    it was okay. This book was a good book but not worthy of 5 stars im no the type of person to think pigs are cute and would rather have them as bacon. Not to be crule or anything, but it just wasnt what i was looking for although the ending was captivating. It felt like to me this whole book dragged along.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2012

    Great

    This is a heart warming book eith some of the best imagery detail

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2012

    Hate

    So stupid i eat pig

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 15, 2012

    A Good Read, For Young Or Old.

    I bought this young-adult book for my 11 year-old daughter. Not having read it, I wanted to read it before I gave it to her. It was a quick, easy, entertaining read for an adult, and I enjoyed it very much. It tells the story of a young boy growing up on a farm and his affection and attachment for his animals. The book portrays a way of life long forgotten to today's kids. It is an emotional story (a la, Charlottes Web) with a sad ending that will tug at your heart strings. I would recommend this book to others-"Tweens" and adults, and I've already ordered the sequel, "A Part Of The Sky".

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2012

    Good

    Good book don't know what people are missing it is kinda grafic but you get over it and besides why wouldn't you want to read about a boy and a pig and how a dad trys to write his name

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2012

    The best book read thippp The best book i have read this year.

    Amazing. Kind of grafic at some parts but still amazing! Love the character Rob, has a great personality.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2011

    I have it on nook.....Loooooovvvvvveeeeee iiiiiiittt

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2011

    It was alright.

    I had to read this for my literature class, it was alright. I probably would have liked it if we hadn't had to speed through it, but since we did, it wasn't very interesting or moving. I only understood some parts of it, and in my opinion, the only reason anyone would read this book is for school.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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