I was asked by Patti Abbott to offer a post for her Forgotten Books series and like everything else in my life right now I am running behind.
The book that came to mind was A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck. This was one of my earliest reading experiences and it made a big impression on me. The story taught me how books can communicate not only action and adventure but depth and emotion. I was drawn into the life of the characters in the way only great books can draw you in.
Here is the publishers description:
In the daily round of his thirteenth year, as the seasons turn and the
farm is tended, the boy — whose time is the only-yesterday of Calvin
Coolidge, whose people are the Plain People living without “frills” in
the Shaker Way — becomes a man.
That is all, and it is
everything. The boy is mauled by Apron, the neighbor’s ailing cow whom
he helps, alone, to give birth. The grateful farmer brings him a gift
— a newborn pig. His father at first demurs (“We thank you, Brother
Tanner,” said Papa, “but it’s not the Shaker Way to take frills for
being neighborly. All that Robert done was what any farmer would do for
another”) but is persuaded. Rob keeps the pig, names her, and gives her
his devotion … He wrestles with grammar in the schoolhouse. He hears
rumors of sin. He is taken — at last — to the Rutland Fair. He
broadens his heart to make room even for Baptists. And when his father,
who can neither read nor cipher, whose hands are bloodied by his trade,
whose wisdom and mastery of country things are bred in the bone,
entrusts Rob with his final secret, the boy makes the sacrifice that completes his passage into manhood.
I am not sure what qualifies as a “Forgotten Book.” Although it is still available in mass paperback (with this rather garish cover) and Peck is a prominent author I have never heard anyone else mention this book. Not even as part of a discussion of their childhood reading. And I have yet to come across it in any of the used bookstores I frequent.
It was, however, a part of my start as a life long reader. So if it has become a forgotten book, it would please me to know that this post might introduce a few readers to this worthy classic.