As a kid I wasn’t a big reader. I did love to have my Mom read to me though. In Middle School I finally became a reader. My Mom read good literature to me and my older brother and we both became life-long readers. My parents never censored what we read–my brother read the Godfather in 7th or 8th grade and went on to read other books that have been challenged. I read Gone With the Wind and the Winds of War in Middle School along with a few Bruce Catton titles on the Civil War. My Mom choose books for me sometimes–Eric by Doris Lund is still a favorite of mine, but she chose it. One book my Mom bought for me shows up on numerous banned or challenged book lists. It is the first such that I recall reading: A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck. It was newly out in paperback so I’m guessing the year was probably 1974–the summer before 7th grade. A neighbor read it–I can still recall this, and said she had thought it was something about the Bay of Pigs!
An odd story for a mother to pick for a girl who loves animals? Maybe. Maybe she “didn’t think it through!” Who knows. What stays with me was the rather gross scene of Robert’s mother (or someone) picking nuts out of the stomach of a slaughtered animal–a squirrel if I remember correctly, and using them on a cake!! Not something done in suburbia, you can be sure of that!
Let’s be frank here–I can understand why some parents would not be in favor of this book. But, as I always say, ask for an alternative assignment for your child and ask that they not be in the room when this book is being discussed. The merits of this book are Peck’s great prose, his vivid characters and scenes. Children today do not equate food with the killing of animals unless its the silly “I don’t eat things with faces” sort of comment. This book would, therefore, be educational and could be a good spark to a serious discussion on all aspects of food security, ethics and farming.
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck.