RHCB Banned Books Celebration: A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck

Posted 10/01/2015 by alicemarvels in Banned Books
Today we’re celebrating Banned Books Week with Random House Children’s Books by focusing on a long challenged classic from the seventies, A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck.  To read more about Banned Books Week, head over here.
About A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck:

Out of a rare American tradition, sweet as hay, grounded in the gentle austerities of the Book of Shaker, and in the Universal countryman’s acceptance of birth, death, and the hard work of wresting a life from the land comes this haunting novel of a Vermont farm boyhood.

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.

All is told with quiet humor and simplicity. Here are lives lived by earthy reason — in a novel that, like a hoedown country fiddler’s tune, rings at the same time with both poignancy and cheer.


We try to celebrate Banned Books Week each year by reading a new challenged/banned book, and we were thrilled to join Random House’s Banned Books Week blog tour. I’d never read A Day No Pigs Would Die before, but it immediately reminded me of another often challenged childhood favorite, Where the Red Fern Grows. Both books are unflinching coming of age stories that show young boys forced to deal with hardscrabble lives like adults, and both books have unforgettable images that will stay with me for a very long time, particularly regarding the animals.
From the very first page, we are thrown into Robert’s life as the son of a Shaker on a farm in rural Vermont, as he desperately tries to help his neighbor’s cow give birth to a calf, and saves it. As a reward, his neighbor presents him with a baby pig, which he names Pinky. As Robert faces the harsh realities of daily life his father Haven has endured, including his lack of education and feeling of being an outsider, he assumes more responsibilities, and we can see him growing. His maturity and understanding of his father is touching, thought ultimately heartbreaking as he is forced to make an unthinkable decision, marking his transition into adulthood. The book pulls no punches when it comes to the harsh realities of life on a farm, and there are many graphic scenes that aren’t for the faint of heart. Presumably these are what cause the book to be banned, but I think they are necessary to understand the stark circumstances of Robert’s childhood.
Random House Children’s Banned Book Week Blog Tour Schedule
Sunday, September 27
Monday, September 28
Tuesday, September 29
Wednesday, September 30
Thursday, October 1
  • Ex LibrisBlood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
  • Alice MarvelsA Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
Friday October 2


Saturday, October 3





    Ah yes, banned books, thought it was around this time.


    Kind of ironic this was banned since I remember reading it in school! Ha! There wasn’t anything bad in it really, it was fitting for the time period. It is sad to see these type of books banned, well, all books really.


    The title is kind of misleading, isn’t it? This is not a book I would want to read again.


    So nice to have you back, especially for Banned Books. I haven’t read this one, nor do I think I will, not that I have issues with the ban, but I have such a tender heart, and Red Fern broke my heart even though I read it several times. Farm life is hard and sad, and not for tender hearted animal lovers like me.

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