Gay Neck: The Story of a Pigeon Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2016-05-02 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 13 user ratings

"This is a delightful narrative, written in the beautiful language of the early 20th century, which gives readers a glimpse into the incredible personalities of pigeons, and the heroic deeds they've done for centuries on the battlefields of the world. Definitely tugs hard on the heart-strings!" said.

"Although I do really enjoy reading book lists, and various award winners, you can't always trust the committees who pick the books. Sometimes, you get a 'bad' on in the bunch. Gay-Neck, the Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji is one such book.

While not a horrid book, Gay-Neck is also not a book I would recommend or reread. I picked it up because it is on the Newbery list, and it is one of only two books thus far that I truly disliked. (The other being Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field.) It's been a little while since I read this one, so my memory of specific details, but the way the book made me feel is still pretty fresh. I was reorganizing my books for storage (sad, I know) and I saw this one, and decided to write my review now and get it over with while I was thinking about it. ...

The book is about a young boy in India who trains pigeons around the time of World War I. Gay-Neck happens to be one of his prized pigeons. Initially, our narrator is the young boy. Through him, we learn about the training procedures for carrier pigeons and what his life is like. Later in the story however, we get to hear from Gay-Neck himself as he goes off to war and a few other places as well. I have never been a big fan of animals being the ones to tell a story. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, I rather dislike that.

There wasn't much that I liked about this book. The writing never grabbed me, the story never interested me, and the characters never moved me. I don't know what I'm supposed to feel when a pigeon starts making eyes at this pretty lady pigeon, but I definitely missed that one.

I respect this as an award winner, because there are very few award winners that are so obviously set in, or about other cultures beyond America. Not to say that the book has no merit on its own, but I believe the glimpse into another culture played a large role in earning this book the golden sticker. I can't think of another Newbery book set in India or written by an Indian author right off hand, and it's always nice to be able to add a bit of culture.

Although I wasn't a fan of this book, I can understand why some view it as a distinguished contribution to children's literature, and I've even been told that there are people out there who truly enjoyed this book. I haven't met any yet, but I'll let you know if I do! I think that this is a book with a very limited audience, and sadly, one of the Newbery winners that has not stood the test of time well.
" said.

"I accidentally read that this book was translated into Hebrew so was very happy to find the original in English. I love old library book, they have so much character, probably left by all the readers who enjoyed it.
The book is one long poetry, now I am going to look for anything else mr. Mukerji ever wrote.
When I was a child my father used to read me books by Rudyard Kipling, this book has a Kiplingian charm and wisdom.
" said.

"This charming story which won a Newbery award is based on the actual boyhood memories and experiences of a youth in India and his pet pigeon. Raising pigeons (such as tumblers and carriers) is a serious and honored hobby; there are races and special annual contests among pigeon fanciers. Narrated in the first person this novel introduces readers to a beloved bird named GAY NECK (in English) from his hatching out, through his flight and survival training, his mating, and ultimately his critical role helping the Allied war effort of the Indian troops in World War II France. Any boy would be proud to have raised this valiant bird who sacrificed so much to help British soldiers.

Mukerji shares his admiration for Nature—especially the majesty of the mighty Himalayas: source of purified air, incredible beauty and the home of tranquil Buddhist lamaseries. Twice he and Gay Neck seek healing in those hallowed hills and hallways; for there peace reigns-- showering its blessings to heal diseases of both the body and the mind. Although no attempt is made to convert readers, honest praise is given for the tireless work of praying, chanting monks who seek to bring peace and calm to the turbulent outside world. This gentle book reads easily--for “children” of all ages. Your heart will be captured by this endearing bird, who sometimes relates his story in his own words: Birdspeak.
" said.

"My niece loves pigeons, so when I came across this book I hit the jack pot. I also like to read books before giving it as a gift, so we can have an extra something to talk about. So glad I did read it because it is not my 2nd favorite book to read. There is suspense, history and elements from another culture/land. This is a great book for anyone, especially a kid that likes animals, adventure or history." said.

"I read this aloud to my 5 and 7 year olds. The language is so poetic and rich, and the depth of understanding the author has about animals and nature was shared so beautifully - I have profound new respect for pigeons - but also for Indian culture, religion, the wildness of nature, and the capacity of people to overcome fear with love. This spiritual message is woven so subtly (but powerfully!) throughout the book, and what I loved most. My sons were very interested in the pigeon's adventures and perspective on the world - encounters with hawks and the like filled it with all the good action and intensity they want, and the pigeon's description of things often had them laughing.

I do think the story was a little to complex for my youngest son - it would be most fitting for listeners 7 and up.
" said.

"Gay Neck is an oldie but a goodie.its also a gorgeous book. I bought it very second hand and it cleaned up nicely." said.

"One fine story for anyone especially older children. I read this story as a boy and it influenced my whole life with the values that the author lives by. Not a religious man but still appreciate the lessons taught with out being pedantic. I fell in love with pigeons all those years ago and I still favor them over many birds as I'm a serious, casual birder today and enjoy all birds for their beauty and intelligence. Nice story to read aloud to your grandchildren." said.

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