Gay Neck: The Story of a Pigeon Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2017-12-28 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 13 user ratings

" At first I thought this story was interesting but the more I read, the more bored I became. I'm guessing if you're into raising pigeons, it would be interesting. " said.

" A hard book to rate. Overall the writing was very old fashioned. Some of it was very dull but some was really beautiful. Three stars. " said.

" In the category of great books that don't underestimate children's intelligence or sensitivity. The writing is very beautiful, and descriptions of the exotic settings are very vivid and magical. Even though some dark events unfold, it has a very hopeful message and it's a heartwarming book (don't forget Boris Artzybasheff’s illustrations!). It would've only been better if I'd read it as a kid. " said.

"Synopsis: In India, many of the young boys grow up training pigeons that they grow to love and recognize. It wasn't uncommon for boys to have flocks of 40 or more pigeons that they train to always return home and carry messages. Gay-Neck was an especially capable and fearless pigeon that was taken to help the British fight World War I.

My Review: This book was far better then I expected when I judged the book by its cover. It was awarded the 1928 Newbery Medal. It is interesting to me how many of the early Newbery Medal winners were books about animals (see: Smoky the Cowhorse and The Voyages of Dr Dolittle). If you want to learn about carrier pigeons then this is the book for you!
" said.

"While this book won the Newbery in 1927, I am afraid the writing style and the story is now more appropriate for adults. Its deep themes may not be appreciated by young American readers. However, as an adult, I found wisdom in these pages.

p. 55 " no animal, nor any man, is attacked and killed by an enemy until the latter succeeds in frightening him. I have seen even rabbits escape hounds and foxes when they kept themselves free of fear. Fear clouds one's wits and paralyses one's nerve. He who allows himself to be frightened lets himself be killed."

p.173 "our fear frightens others so that they attack us."

p. 190 "Real death is preferable to living death."

The discussion of fear and how others sense it, prompting them to attack, was very interesting to me. Maybe it explains why some are bullied for minor differences while others with even bigger differences are ignored or tolerated. Bullies do seem to sense fear before they attack. In the past, I often found it a mystery why some people are left alone and others are bullied. Maybe this helps to explain it. Not that bullying should be tolerated in any form of course.
" said.

"Spoilers ahead. Not a book for everyone, but a reader who likes to read about animals or other cultures may enjoy it. At it's root, it's the story of a carrier pigeon who "fought" alongside an Indian battalion in WWI. His name Gay Neck "Chritra-Griva" refers to his iridescent neck feathers. He is named and trained by an unnamed boy in Calcutta, India (character supposedly based on the author's childhood). The reader learns a lot about pigeons, their raising, and their training. One oddity is that the pigeons don't mate, they get married and are referred to as Mr. and Mrs. The boy has two friends, Radja, a young Brahmin priest and an old jungle guide named Ghond, who also assist in the training. That takes them near the Himalayas and to a Buddhist lamasery where the pigeon meets up with some swifts and they journey together, the story recounted from Gay Neck's POV and involving eagles, hawks, and some stupid geese. When WWI breaks out the boy sends Gay Neck to war; he's too young to go himself, but Ghond goes (in spite of his age and his familiarity with jungles rather than cities and modern things) with the bird. The two face the horrors of the front: Gay Neck facing fire from metal eagles and the booming of war dogs. They have a secret mission together to find a German ammo dump and encounter a feral French dog whom Ghond befriends. Both are wounded and return to India, while Ghond recovers, Gay Neck seems to suffer from shell-shock/PTSD. There's another trip to the Himalayan lamasery where the pigeon is blessed in a ceremony of Infinite Compassion and healed. What is remarkable about this book is the amount and detail of the info provided to the juvenile reader; she/he learns a bit about the Hindu caste system and more of Buddhism than I would have expected for 1927. I read this for my 2017 Reading Challenge "main character is a different ethnicity -Indian" (PopSugar)and for my Newbery Challenge (Medal 1928)." said.

" I'm beginning to wonder if the Newbery Committee of the 1920's and 30's hated children. Actually, this wasn't nearly as horrid as Dobry - it was more boring. I was pretty stoked that the word 'bivouacking' made an appearance. Twice. " said.

" This book wasn't what I expected-which was a book about the training of carrier pigeons and how this one was involved in the war, but it was good. I enjoyed the insights into Hindu philosophy and the overall message. " said.

April 2018 New Book:

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