Tuesday, September 3, 2013
by Dhan Gopal Mukerji
I've been adding books to this blog, just not posting them or writing commentary. So, it's time to catch up.
My goal for 2013 has been to read as many Newbery winners as possible. Strange, but the old, musty winners are the ones I've really enjoyed reading. I haven't bothered to pick up the more popular titles. Gay-Neck is one of those that I'm surprised is still sitting on library shelves. It won the 1928 Newbery medal. While the less than exciting cover is not the original one, it hasn't changed in many years.
And, it's about a pigeon. Named "Gay Neck."
So, with all of those things against it, I still picked it up and jumped right in. It isn't so much the story of a pigeon as it is the story of a boy and his bird. Gay Neck is a carrier pigeon. His name comes from the beautiful colors that shine on his head and neck.
Gay Neck's mother is killed by a hawk and his father dies in a storm. Traumatized by these experiences, the bird receives special care from his master, an Indian boy. The action moves to a lamasery where the Buddhist monks help him to heal from his fears. He then becomes a messenger in World War I.
A couple of the chapters are told from the point of view of the pigeon, which is rather odd. I'm not sure why the author made this choice. But, it works pretty well and helps to make this the pigeon's story.
I'd be willing to book talk this to a child reader. It isn't for everyone, but it was surprisingly enjoyable.