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Writing out of his own experience as a boy in India, Dhan Gopal Mukerji tells how Gay-Neck's master sent his prized pigeon to serve in World War I, and of how, because of his exceptional training and his brave heart, Gay-Neck served his new masters heroically. Winner of the 1928 Newbery Medal.


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Writing out of his own experience as a boy in India, Dhan Gopal Mukerji tells how Gay-Neck's master sent his prized pigeon to serve in World War I, and of how, because of his exceptional training and his brave heart, Gay-Neck served his new masters heroically. Winner of the 1928 Newbery Medal.

30 review for Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon

  1. 4 out of 5

    Phil Jensen

    This book is a milestone in anyone's life as a reader. Before it, you are one of a multitude. After it, you are one of a select few who have heard about it, sought it out, picked it up, and persisted with it well past the point of enjoyment. What does this say about you? Obviously, you are attempting to read all the Newbery Medal winners. Moreover, as you experienced this book, you quickly realized that it is terribly boring. Next, you realized that it has no possible classroom application. Final This book is a milestone in anyone's life as a reader. Before it, you are one of a multitude. After it, you are one of a select few who have heard about it, sought it out, picked it up, and persisted with it well past the point of enjoyment. What does this say about you? Obviously, you are attempting to read all the Newbery Medal winners. Moreover, as you experienced this book, you quickly realized that it is terribly boring. Next, you realized that it has no possible classroom application. Finally, you realized that most of the information about pigeons is weirdly inaccurate. Yet, you read the thing anyway. I'm not sure that this is anything to be proud of- you have read a book with no expectation of enjoying or benefiting from it. Isn't that the opposite of what reading is supposed to be? In fairness, I should mention that the last third of this book is better than the first two thirds. I especially liked the mating chapter, in which Mukerji uses the phrase "go all the way" hilariously. The WWI sections were interesting, if only to see how wildly unrealistic they could be. (A nictating membrane as defense against mustard gas?) If, like me, you are persisting in your Newbery quest, then I wish you well. I hope you have only good books ahead of you. My next Newbery read is about roller skating in the 1890s. It looks pretty lame, but it can't be as painful as this book was.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    A couple of the other Newbery project members and I have -- while attempting to finish Gay-Neck -- discussed the need for a new edition with an updated title. Proposed titles include: Iridescence-Throated: The story of the pigeon who ran away a lot Which Colorful Bird?: A story about everything BUT the pigeon Pigeon Rocks India!: The story of a rich boy, his famous bird, and some random hunter who keeps showing up Of course, a new edition will never be published because this is one of the most fanta A couple of the other Newbery project members and I have -- while attempting to finish Gay-Neck -- discussed the need for a new edition with an updated title. Proposed titles include: Iridescence-Throated: The story of the pigeon who ran away a lot Which Colorful Bird?: A story about everything BUT the pigeon Pigeon Rocks India!: The story of a rich boy, his famous bird, and some random hunter who keeps showing up Of course, a new edition will never be published because this is one of the most fantastically boring books you will ever read. Really. The basic plotline goes something like this: boy gets bird, boy trains bird, boy takes bird far away to see if it will fly home, bird gets attacked by scary predator, bird is too afraid to fly, bird gets healed by a lama. Repeat many times (with slight variations) until Dhan Gopal Mukerji gets tired of writing about this bird and tells his readers to live with courage. (Hmm ... perhaps Gay-Neck's story was actually the story of man and Mukerji wanted to teach his young readers how to be free and live without fear. Perhaps. But even that can't redeem this book.)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeannette

    This novel, written in 1928 for children, by a man born in Calcutta, is intense, to say the least. Gay-Neck is a carrier pigeon whose "odyssey" unfolds over several years, as he learns to fly, trains for war, mates, falls into a great funk, and finally comes into The Wisdom of the Lama. Pretty deep stuff, but simply and sweetly told. The illustrations/prints are superb.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Stimpson

    This book is not entertaining. If you want entertaining, read the other Goodreads reviews of it, mostly by school librarians. THOSE are entertaining.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alex Baugh

    This is a book I’ve had sitting on my shelf for years and just never got around to reading. But I recently read two very interesting articles about the author, Dhan Gopal Mukerji, which spurred me to action. I pulled the book off the shelf and finally read it. And while it is usually considered a WWI story, it is really much, much more than that. Born into a Brahmin family, Mukerji had raised pigeons growing up in Calcutta, India in the early years of the 20th century just like so many boys his a This is a book I’ve had sitting on my shelf for years and just never got around to reading. But I recently read two very interesting articles about the author, Dhan Gopal Mukerji, which spurred me to action. I pulled the book off the shelf and finally read it. And while it is usually considered a WWI story, it is really much, much more than that. Born into a Brahmin family, Mukerji had raised pigeons growing up in Calcutta, India in the early years of the 20th century just like so many boys his age and caste did at that time. Calling upon his own experience with his flock of 40 birds and the experiences of others, Mukerji writes about this special pigeon’s life story. Almost from the moment it was born, it’s young owner knows this is a special pigeon, beautiful and smart. The young master decides to name him Gay-Neck or Chitra-griva, Hindu meaning “painting in gay colours.” At first, it is up to Gay-Neck’s parents to teach him to fly, and to defend himself against hawks and eagles, a pigeon’s natural enemies, but soon his master takes over with the help of Ghond, a family friend and hunter who is familiar with India’s forests, mountains, and wild life. Together, they take Gay-Neck on trips further and further from home in Calcutta, releasing him to see if he will return to Calcutta. Gay-Neck’s training is successful, but not without mishaps, including having to retrain him after he becomes frightened to fly again because of a hawk attack. When WWI begins, Ghond and Gay-Neck are sent to the front as part of the Indian Army. Gay-Neck performs masterfully as a carrier pigeon saving lives during the war, but ultimately both Ghond and Gay-Neck are invalided out and sent home. Ghond suffering with physical wounds and both suffering from PTSD. Both must be healed now. I found Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon to be a very interesting book for a number of reasons. First, there is the story of just how a homing/carrier pigeon is trained, something I’ve wondered about whenever I’ve read a book about their use in war. Mukerji goes into quite a bit of detail about this, carefully describing how to begin training them and why a trainer might have to tie a pigeons’s wings to prevent it from flying, as well as the retraining process after the pigeon has been attacked or become frightened as Gay-Neck did on the battlefield. Gay-Neck is also a window into the life of an Indian boy from a high caste. Gay-Neck’s young master (like Mukerji himself), has the leisure time and money to spend on raising his flock of pigeon’s, living in a two story private home with a flat roof for the pigeon coops. There is no mention of the British until the war, even though India was still a colony of the British Empire, nor any mention of the poorer people in Calcutta. But it is Mukerji’s descriptions of natural and religious life that really makes this novel. Whether they are in the jungle, dealing with a tiger, an angry elephant, a killer water buffalo, or resting and meditating at a lamasery with the lamas, or describing the majesty of the Himalayas, the writing is always beautiful and the language simply poetic. even when Mukerji is graphically describing the action on front lines. At times, during the war, Mukerji writes from Gay-Neck’s point of view since his master was only a teenager and couldn’t accompany his bird to the front. Thus, the reader is able to read what Gay-Neck sees and experiences, from a wild dog at the front, to machine eagles spitting fire in the sky. And, the dramatic black and white graphic illustrations by Russian-born artist Boris Artzybasheff are the perfect compliment to this book. While I enjoyed finally reading Gay-Neck, what I am not sure about is whether this is a book that would appeal to today’s young reader. Plus, sensitive readers should be aware that there are some graphic descriptions throughout this book. Gay-Neck won the Newbery in 1928 and I believe, the author is the only Indian author to have won that award to day. You might want to read these recent articles about Dhan Gopal Mukerji. You can find them HERE and HERE This book is recommended for readers age 10+ This book was purchased for my personal library.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    What a bizarre choice! The reader knows almost nothing about the human narrator and very little about the setting; it really is "the story of a pigeon", but not even an anthropomorphic pigeon, for the most part. It's sort of mesmerizing, and is full of Buddhist wisdom. The story picks up about halfway through, and the episode where the pigeon has post-traumatic-stress disorder is interesting. The illustrations are beautiful.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    The city of Calcutta, which boasts of a million people, must have at least two million pigeons. I love that opening line. It paints a vivid picture that truly opens the story. This Newbery winner is unlike any I've read. And in a good way. It's best to start reading this without any preconceptions, especially don't think of it as a story for children. The first third of the book is a nature tale set in the Himalayas. Not only is this about a pigeon, as narrated by the 15-year-old pigeon keeper, it The city of Calcutta, which boasts of a million people, must have at least two million pigeons. I love that opening line. It paints a vivid picture that truly opens the story. This Newbery winner is unlike any I've read. And in a good way. It's best to start reading this without any preconceptions, especially don't think of it as a story for children. The first third of the book is a nature tale set in the Himalayas. Not only is this about a pigeon, as narrated by the 15-year-old pigeon keeper, it also gives insight into other birds -- hawks, an eagle family, Himalayan pheasants (which are truly gorgeous birds -- I looked them up on the internet), and swifts. I'm thinking that much of this story is non-fiction. Then the point of view switches to that of the bird. The reader is told that, It is not hard for us to understand him if we use the grammar of fancy and the dictionary of imagination. Mukerji narrates the story as it would seem to the pigeon, but there aren't any talking animals (much to my relief). His pigeon was so intelligent and well-trained that it was drafted into service during WWI. (I didn't even realize that soldiers from India fought in France.) The last fourth of the book is filled with battlefield descriptions based on the carrier pigeon's descriptions. Mukerji clearly appreciates and believes in the abilities of his birds. After returning from war, the bird and his keeper returned to the wild for healing. (I ask, how do we heal when we've destroyed the wild?) The author's thoughts about zoos: What a pity that most young people instead of seeing one animal in nature--which is worth a hundred in any Zoo--must derive their knowledge of God's creatures from their appearance in prisons. ... How do we manage to think that we know all about an animal by gazing at him penned in a cage? It would be interesting to read comments from young readers. This is so different from today's teen fiction that I think few kids would actually finish the book. Goodreads provides this info about the author: "Dhan Gopal Mukerji was born in a small village in India in 1890, he was passionate about bringing understanding of the Indian people and culture to American readers through his own unique brand of expressive and poetic language. In 1936, the driven yet unhappy DGM took his own life, in New York City. He was forty-six years of age." How tragic. Mukerji was undoubtedly a sensitive and caring person. The war years and the change in lifestyles driven by technology had to have been hard on him. I wonder why he moved to New York City. So how do I rate such a book? That is hard. Because it is so unusual, and because it made me think, I have given it 4-stars. If I were to use my usual criteria, it would merit 3-stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Linda Lipko

    While this 1927 Newbery Medal winner is not one of my favorites, it is worth the time spent reading the poetic, beautiful allegorical, lyrical language of the author. The setting is 1914 with war looming ever present. It is the story of a carrier pigeon named Gay Neck and his owner, a young 14 year old Indian boy. As Gay Neck's owner trains him to be a carrier pigeon, they travel many miles throughout Indian jungle wherein both lives are in danger. Weaving between the voice of the owner and then t While this 1927 Newbery Medal winner is not one of my favorites, it is worth the time spent reading the poetic, beautiful allegorical, lyrical language of the author. The setting is 1914 with war looming ever present. It is the story of a carrier pigeon named Gay Neck and his owner, a young 14 year old Indian boy. As Gay Neck's owner trains him to be a carrier pigeon, they travel many miles throughout Indian jungle wherein both lives are in danger. Weaving between the voice of the owner and then the pigeon, the reader soars with the vivid images of war waged both man against man and beast against beast.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Josiah

    Particularly for an author whose first language wasn't English, the majestic writing in Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon is stunning. I have encountered no author who uses language to more potent effect, and I clearly see why Dhan Gopal Mukerji's creative and heart-stirring novel won the 1928 Newbery Medal. I only hope kids continue to read it, as it would be a great loss if they missed out on this book just because it was written long ago.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kati Atwood

    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.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    I’m a little horrified that I spent time reading a book about a pigeon called Gay-Neck. I even had a nightmare about it the other night. In my dream I had to hide it from people I was around because I was embarrassed they would see what I was reading. I guess that tells you how I really feel about this book. Here we have the story of a pigeon. That’s right, a pigeon. Gay-Neck was born in India during World War I. He was raised by an unnamed narrator who was apparently in the middle-upper class. I I’m a little horrified that I spent time reading a book about a pigeon called Gay-Neck. I even had a nightmare about it the other night. In my dream I had to hide it from people I was around because I was embarrassed they would see what I was reading. I guess that tells you how I really feel about this book. Here we have the story of a pigeon. That’s right, a pigeon. Gay-Neck was born in India during World War I. He was raised by an unnamed narrator who was apparently in the middle-upper class. I don’t know, it’s hard to say. He was taken on trips to the jungle and was beloved by all. Basically most of this book was Gay-Neck disappearing and his owner trying to find him. Oh, and his owner telling us how beautiful he was. I have to say this is really not my cup of tea. My biggest question is, who cares about pigeons this much? I mean, seriously, they’re just not that interesting. Maybe it’s because I don’t think of animals as people like some people do. Animals are animals. Their lives are really not that interesting to me. Well, that is one more Newberry down. When I saw the title I was quite sure that this was going on my DNF list. Amazingly, I only have a copy because someone gave it to my mom as a present. Someone purposely went out and bought this book to give to another human being. It’s really quite shocking. The illustrations were fun.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    The whole time I was reading this book I thought of my niece Amelia saying "The bird nerds would LOVE this!", which is true! maybe not love, but if I didn't like birds the way I do I may not have enjoyed this book as much. I have to say though, of the Newberys about animals and Buddhist philosophy...I'm thinking of The Cat Who Went to Heaven here, this was MUCH better, maybe because this book actually had a plot. The author includes a lot of information about birds and their behavior in a way th The whole time I was reading this book I thought of my niece Amelia saying "The bird nerds would LOVE this!", which is true! maybe not love, but if I didn't like birds the way I do I may not have enjoyed this book as much. I have to say though, of the Newberys about animals and Buddhist philosophy...I'm thinking of The Cat Who Went to Heaven here, this was MUCH better, maybe because this book actually had a plot. The author includes a lot of information about birds and their behavior in a way that is interesting...but I'm a bird nerd so I can't speak for everyone! Also, there was some fascinating information that I did not know about Indian culture and customs and India's WWII involvement in Europe. On animals: "He had, attached to his eyelid, another thin lid as delicate as tissue-paper...it was a protective film for the eye that enabled the bird to fly in a dust-storm or straight toward the sun." "The brooding did for him what cuddling does for human children. It gives the helpless ones warmth and happiness. It is as necessary to them as food." "I have yet to see a Himalayan eagle that does not sit facing the wind from the time of its birth until it learns to fly, as a sailor boy might sit looking at the sea until he takes to navigating it." "What a pity that most young people instead of seeing one animal in nature--which is worth a hundred in any zoo--must derive their knowledge of God's creatures from their appearance in prisons! If we cannot perceive any right proportion of man's moral nature by looking at prisoners in a jail, how do we manage to think that we know all about an animal by gazing at him penned in a cage?" "I am not sorry that the bull died. Better death than to be caged for the rest of his life in a zoo. Real death is preferable to living death." Other quotes: "It has been our practise for centuries to pray for all who sleep. A this hour of the night even the insomnia-stricken person finds oblivion; and since men when they sleep cannot possess their conscious thoughts, we pray that Eternal Compassion may purify them, so that when they awake in the morning they will begin their day with thoughts that are pure, kind and brave." "...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." "...almost all our troubles come from fear, worry, and hate. If any man catches one of the three, the other two are added unto it. No beast of prey can kill his vicim without frightening him first." "...an animal's fear kills it before its enemy gives it the final blow." "Even there, in that very heart of pounding and shooting, where houses fell as birds' nests in tempests, rats ran from hole to hole, mice stole cheese, and spiders spun webs to catch flies. They went on with the business of their lives as if the slaughtering of men by their brothers were as negligible as the clouds that covered the sky." "Here in the monastery we have prayed to Infinite Compassion twice every day for the healing of the nations of earth. Yet the war goes on, infecting even the birds and beasts with fear and hate. Diseases of the emotions spread faster than the ills of the body. Mankind is going to be so loaded with fear, hate, suspicion and malice that it will take a whole generation before a new set of people can be reared completely free from them." "Infinite courage is in all life. Each being that lives and breathes is a reservoir of infinite courage." "He who purifies himself to the greatest extent can put into the world the greatest spiritual force." "May the north wind bring healing unto you, May the south wind bring healing unto you, May the winds of east and west pour healing into you. Fear flees from you, Hate flees from you, And suspicion flees from you." "If you take a map of France and draw a line from Calais south almost in a straight line, you will come across a series of places where the British and Indian armies were situated. Near Armentieres there are many graves of Indian Mohammedan soldiers. There are no graves of Indian Hindu soldiers because the Hindus from time immemorial have cremated their dead, and those that are cremated occupy no grave. Their ashes are scattered to the winds, and no place is marked or burdened with their memory." "The British Government forbids the use of firearms to the common people of India, and so we carried no rifles." "Whatever we think and feel will colour what we say or do. He who fears, even unconsciously, or has his least little dream tainted with hate, will inevitably, sooner or later, translate these two qualities into his action. Therefore, my brothers, live courage, breathe courage and give courage. Think and feel love so that you will be able to pour out of yourselves peace and serenity as naturally as a flower gives forth fragrance."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I have only found an excerpt and I doubt I will ever choose to read more than that excerpt.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    Originally published in 1927, Dhan Gopal Mukerji's Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1928, the seventh book to be so honored. As the sub-title suggests, it is the story of a pigeon, his early experiences in India, where he was hatched and trained, his service as a carrier-pigeon on the battle fields of World War I, and his eventual return to India, where he finds healing and peace through the kind offices of a Buddhist monk and abbott. Chitra-griva, or Gay-Neck - Ch Originally published in 1927, Dhan Gopal Mukerji's Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1928, the seventh book to be so honored. As the sub-title suggests, it is the story of a pigeon, his early experiences in India, where he was hatched and trained, his service as a carrier-pigeon on the battle fields of World War I, and his eventual return to India, where he finds healing and peace through the kind offices of a Buddhist monk and abbott. Chitra-griva, or Gay-Neck - Chitra meaning "painted in gay colors," and griva meaning "neck" - is an interesting choice for main character, particularly as the narration is rather uneven, alternating between the young Indian boy who trained him, and his own "imagined" pigeon viewpoint. As my goodreads friend Wendy notes, you never really get much of a sense of the human narrator, although the character of Ghond - the hunter extraodinaire who guides the young narrator through the dangers of the jungle, and the Himalayan highlands, and accompanies Gay-Neck to war - does come alive. Oddly, the reader gets as little of an internal view of Gay-Neck himself, even in those chapters told from his perspective. In fact, I would say that the chief weakness of this juvenile novel - which I suspect won't appeal greatly to today's young readers - is its external quality. I found the details of pigeon life and training fascinating, enjoyed reading about the trips into the Himalayas, and found the battlefield scenes involving. I also thought that Mukerji's writing itself, particularly the descriptive passages focusing on the natural world, was just beautiful, as were the illustrations by Boris Artzybasheff. But this is a book that holds the reader at a bit of a distance, from its human narrator, and from its avian hero. I can't help wondering, in light of Mukerji's suicide in 1936, just nine years after its composition, if this sense of distance somehow reflected the author's sense of isolation and alienation in his new homeland. Or perhaps Gay-Neck, and other such children's novels set in the India of his youth ( Kari the Elephant , and the like), represent an effort - obviously unsuccessful - to recapture a sense of home. In any case, I'm glad to have read this, both because of its status as an early Newbery Medal winner, and because Mukerji was one of the first authors of South Asian descent to be successful in the United States. I think I might have to read his autobiography, Caste and Outcast , at some point.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Originally reviewed on my book blog, Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing 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 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 Originally reviewed on my book blog, Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing 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 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.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    I did not like this book. At all. I gave it one star because the description of World War I was interesting. It's the story of a pigeon. A pigeon named Gay-Neck. The pigeon is so named because he has beautiful plumage around his neck. The book is two parts. The first is the training of Gay-Neck...which is boring. The second is Gay-Neck serving in the war and his PTSD...which is boring. And yet it won a Newbery. There was so much description that my mind wandered.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael Fitzgerald

    Interesting story that has several parts. Part of the story is told from the viewpoint of the pigeon, with some of the same kind of animal interpretations that are seen in Bambi: A Life in the Woods. A lot of the pigeon training stuff is rather mundane, and a little bit of hawk vs. pigeon goes a long way. However, I found a few of the accounts pretty hard to swallow - various strangers remember seeing one particular lost pigeon flying by? The larger theme of the book is about fear, and it's inte Interesting story that has several parts. Part of the story is told from the viewpoint of the pigeon, with some of the same kind of animal interpretations that are seen in Bambi: A Life in the Woods. A lot of the pigeon training stuff is rather mundane, and a little bit of hawk vs. pigeon goes a long way. However, I found a few of the accounts pretty hard to swallow - various strangers remember seeing one particular lost pigeon flying by? The larger theme of the book is about fear, and it's interesting to consider this in light of its interwar publication. Perhaps it had connections with so many WWI soliders suffering from shell shock. I liked Artzybasheff's black-and-white illustrations, but not as much as his colorful ones in Seven Simeons: A Russian Tale

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    I read this book when I was fourteen. We found it in the library and thought it was funny because of the title - Gay Neck?? A pigeon?? But the title is the best part of the book because the rest of it is literally the life story of a pigeon. Not all that exciting. I mean, exciting for a pigeon. Not that exciting for a human reading it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Newbery Medal Winner--1928. I would have liked this one if the whole thing were actually from the pigeon's perspective. Those chapters/sections were the most interesting and entertaining...but unfortunately they were few and far between. Too much rambling and side stories that didn't seem relevant.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bailey Marissa

    A life story of a carrier pigeon from World War I from the perspective of the pigeon's trainer. Recommended 10+ for mentions of World War I.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Whitt

    The Newbery Medal winner in 1928, this is the reason I picked up this book. In general, the story was just fine. In fact, I was pleased with its overall message which is that "fear" is a dangerous emotion and something to be conquered. "...almost all our troubles come from fear, worry and heat. If any man catches one of the three, the other two can be added unto it." The book even closes with: "He who fears, even unconsciously, or has his least little dream tainted with ate, will inevitably, soon The Newbery Medal winner in 1928, this is the reason I picked up this book. In general, the story was just fine. In fact, I was pleased with its overall message which is that "fear" is a dangerous emotion and something to be conquered. "...almost all our troubles come from fear, worry and heat. If any man catches one of the three, the other two can be added unto it." The book even closes with: "He who fears, even unconsciously, or has his least little dream tainted with ate, will inevitably, sooner or later, translate these two qualities into his action. Therefore, my brothers, live courage, breathe courage and give courage. Think and feel love so that you will be able to pour out of yourselves peace and serenity as naturally as a flower gives forth fragrance." So, not the most eloquent and succinct closing, but I'm also not graced with brevity in writing. The life of Gay-Neck serves as an allegory of sorts and I think it's aim is reasonably true. I enjoyed some of the cultural aspects of this book. Indian religion, fishing, hunting, daily life were touched on throughout this book and I found it very interesting. What I didn't like...what I generally have no patience for...is when authors imbue humanity into animals. I'm not so foolish as to think animals have no emotions, but I cannot abide to think that an animal's emotions equate or is even comparable to that of a human. How could I do such a thing? And to read such tripe feels insulting to my own value of time. Gayneck sat in his cage, and commenced the story..." and then off Mukerji writes in the mind of a pigeon. O master of many tongues, O wizard of all languages human and animal, listen to my tale." Gay-Neck starts. Please. There are a few times with Mukerji does this and each time I find it repulsive. I also found them unnecessary as part of the Gay-Neck's storytelling was rehashing events that were already described! But, the main point is I am one step closer from meeting my challenge. I'm happy to have read this book and happy to be over with it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    This book was written in 1927 and given a Newbery award in 1928. Written in the english of a man from India, it details the story of a young Indian boy who owns pigeons. One pigeon in particular, Gay Neck, surfaces as a particularly talented flyer and becomes the prize bird in the young boy's flock. After being sent to a WWI battle front to be a messenger pigeon, Gay Neck is injured. After completely recovering from his physical injuries, Gay Neck's owner wonders why he won't fly. The young boy, This book was written in 1927 and given a Newbery award in 1928. Written in the english of a man from India, it details the story of a young Indian boy who owns pigeons. One pigeon in particular, Gay Neck, surfaces as a particularly talented flyer and becomes the prize bird in the young boy's flock. After being sent to a WWI battle front to be a messenger pigeon, Gay Neck is injured. After completely recovering from his physical injuries, Gay Neck's owner wonders why he won't fly. The young boy, Gay Neck and a good friend take a trip to the lamasery to learn more about Gay Neck's condition and whether he will ever fly again. Good story with lots of action and other stories to entertain a reader. I particularly liked the quote at the end of the story: "'Whatever we think and feel will colour what we say or do. He who fears, even unconsciously, or has his least little dream tainted with hate, will inevitably, sooner or later, translate these two qualities into his action. Therefore, my brothers, live courage, breathe courage and give courage. Think and feel love so that you will be able to pour out of yourselves peace and serenity as naturally as a flower gives forth fragrance.'" "'Peace be unto all!'"

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Salyer

    Good book. Lots of references to the Lama. Love that half of the book is from the perspective of the pigeon, Gay Neck and the other half is from his owner. The descriptions in the book of the animals and jungle were so great it made me want to visit India. The land is so diverse and this book really catches that.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I only started and finished this book as part of my quest to read all the Newbery winners.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

    The Newbery committee has spent the last three years choosing books and stories written about or from other countries. This one is from India and I liked it. Mr. Mukerji grew up in India and this story is based, in part, from his experiences as a child in Calcutta. He writes with such flavor, I could hear the narrative in my head with an Indian accent. Raising homing pigeons seems to have been a common thing back then, and the story tells of boys in the neighborhood having as many as 40 at a time The Newbery committee has spent the last three years choosing books and stories written about or from other countries. This one is from India and I liked it. Mr. Mukerji grew up in India and this story is based, in part, from his experiences as a child in Calcutta. He writes with such flavor, I could hear the narrative in my head with an Indian accent. Raising homing pigeons seems to have been a common thing back then, and the story tells of boys in the neighborhood having as many as 40 at a time. Our hero, Gay-Neck, is the favorite of all of the main character — of whom we are given no name. Brightly colored plumage gave the bird his name. Much of the book tells of boyhood adventures, including fascinating stories of trips to the countryside, visiting all sorts of people and places — even venturing several times into the Himalayas. One thing that I am rather fond of is the reverence of the writer and the spirituality that seems to permeate his life. I am a Quaker. Many Quakers also practice Buddhism — which is often mentioned in the book — so I am familiar with the faith and practice thereof. Hinduism is also (of course) present, and the tolerance and peace these belief systems teach are very important to the author. I wonder how the American public understood this in 1928? The tale is in two parts, although they are well-connected. The early life of Gay-Neck and his master, their travels and the bird’s training make up interesting adventures, along which they meet a number of people as they visit other places. The stories he tells about nights spent blissfully sleeping in the trees sounds like fun — if I were only 14 again! On one adventure, our friend and his companion, Ghond, make a trek in the Himalayas where they spend several days, havingn lost Gay-neck, and are looking for him. His fate seems dim. They visit a Buddhist lamasery where they are made welcome, and he goes into some detail about the monks’ nightly practice of praying for eternal compassion throughout the world. If only we all did that. The Monks have rescued Gay-neck, and all is well again. The second portion of the book dwells on a mission Ghond takes up during world war 1 which involves using Gay-Neck to carry important information about German territory. Both the bird and Ghond are wounded – body and soul, although their mission is a success. It is only after returning to the Lamasery that they are both restored to physical and mental health, through the patient prayers and ministrations of the monks. So, yeah, I was really impressed with the spirituality interwoven with the story. It’s not as much of the text as I am making it out here, it’s just that I was so touched by it. The respect of one religion for the other is compelling to me, especially when we live now in a world so ridden by strife at the hands of religious extremists of so many varieties.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    This quest to read all the Newberys will be the death of me, or at least will kill my desire to read ever again. It is not that this book is bad, per se. In fact, compared to other Newbery winners of its era, it was a refreshing multi-cultural inclusion. But... a pigeon? To answer the first question that comes to mind when seeing this book: The name of the pigeon is "Chitra-Griva" which is roughly translated as "brightly colored throat" or "Gay Neck." Hence the rather unfortunate title. We meet This quest to read all the Newberys will be the death of me, or at least will kill my desire to read ever again. It is not that this book is bad, per se. In fact, compared to other Newbery winners of its era, it was a refreshing multi-cultural inclusion. But... a pigeon? To answer the first question that comes to mind when seeing this book: The name of the pigeon is "Chitra-Griva" which is roughly translated as "brightly colored throat" or "Gay Neck." Hence the rather unfortunate title. We meet Chitra-Griva in egg and follow his life from early training, through adventures in the Himalayas and eventually as a carrier pigeon in World War I. There is more adventure and excitement in this book than I would expect in a pigeon tale, but it was still a pigeon story. Oddly, I found myself wishing for more concrete information about what it was like raising pigeons in Delhi. I wanted details about changing water dishes and those training flights. How does one train a pigeon to return home when there are dovecotes on every rooftop? We got little samplings of that, but mostly of a boy who loved his pigeon. The descriptions of the Himalayas were lovely. But the chapters that switched into Gay-Neck's voice were almost too much to bear. Sadly, the latter half of the book was primarily told from the pigeon's point of view. While a bird's-eye-view may be useful for maps, I do not recommend it for a narrative.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    In Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon, Dhan Gopal Mukerji tells the story of his childhood adventures with his messenger pigeon, Gay-Neck. (Yes, it is quite a name in today's usage. It is a reference to the pigeon's colorful neck, and can also be translated as iridescence-throated.) Mukerji and Gay-Neck have a lot of adventures and scrapes with death in the Himalayas, and Gay-Neck is also sent to France to serve as a messenger pigeon with the army during World War I. There was a lot I appreciated a In Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon, Dhan Gopal Mukerji tells the story of his childhood adventures with his messenger pigeon, Gay-Neck. (Yes, it is quite a name in today's usage. It is a reference to the pigeon's colorful neck, and can also be translated as iridescence-throated.) Mukerji and Gay-Neck have a lot of adventures and scrapes with death in the Himalayas, and Gay-Neck is also sent to France to serve as a messenger pigeon with the army during World War I. There was a lot I appreciated about this book. It wasn't racist like other early Newbery winners have been. It is by an author of Indian descent and exposes children to Buddhist thought and culture. I liked the fact that Mukerji was a curious and reverent observer of the natural world. There were several quotes I really liked about the awe-inspiring nature of gazing daily upon mountains. There was also a lot I didn't like about this book. There is a lot of anthropomorphism of which I am not a fan, although I am much more tolerant of it in books written for children. Often, the overly reverent Buddhist language became a bit much for me. Most of the book was actually pretty boring, but at least I didn't actively hate it. (Although actively hating a book can make it more fun to read.) Wouldn't recommend this Newbery winner.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    I only read this book because I'm determined to finish my 20-year-old goal to read all the Newbery Award winners. Like most early Newbery selections, the setting of this book is decidedly more exotic than mainstream 1920s America. This is a tale of a little Indian boy raising a carrier pigeon circa wwI. It has some compelling elements, most notably the author's clear love of Indian jungle life and the Himalayas. Unfortunately, my juvenile mind could never get past the fact that a bird named "Gay I only read this book because I'm determined to finish my 20-year-old goal to read all the Newbery Award winners. Like most early Newbery selections, the setting of this book is decidedly more exotic than mainstream 1920s America. This is a tale of a little Indian boy raising a carrier pigeon circa wwI. It has some compelling elements, most notably the author's clear love of Indian jungle life and the Himalayas. Unfortunately, my juvenile mind could never get past the fact that a bird named "Gay Neck" ascended to the position of leader of the flock. I mean, this was the macho bird of the realm! That is unlikely as the local sports hero being named Gaylord! Wouldn't happen! As a side note, I also feel sorry for the author, who is no doubt dead by now. His wish was that no man ever ruin Mt. Everest by climbing to the top. The author also expressed through the tongue of the protagonist human that it would never happen. Obviously there is a lesson to be learned. Humans can and will damage the most sacred shrine if it presents a challenge and fulfills ones ego-stroking tendencies. I nearly gave this book three stars because of the elephant scene, but I remembered the title and slipped it back to to stars. Gay Neck!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Okay - bird is born, trained, escapes a few times... this was ground breaking literature? While the writing style wasn't as hard to read as some of the other early Newbery books, I still didn't find it appealing. There were times when the bird "told his own story". Now, I'm a huge fan of many of the animal character books out there. I loved Rats of NIMH, and I enjoyed Familiars. This? Not so much. I'm not sure why, but there just wasn't much of a voice to the pigeon. There were scenes from World Okay - bird is born, trained, escapes a few times... this was ground breaking literature? While the writing style wasn't as hard to read as some of the other early Newbery books, I still didn't find it appealing. There were times when the bird "told his own story". Now, I'm a huge fan of many of the animal character books out there. I loved Rats of NIMH, and I enjoyed Familiars. This? Not so much. I'm not sure why, but there just wasn't much of a voice to the pigeon. There were scenes from World War 1 - but not enough that it made me feel like I was interested in the story. There were a few beautiful scenes in the Himalayas, but not enough to really draw me in. Then there were the times when he spent several pages just explaining birds to me. Most "entertaining" part? When the author wrapped up the book by stating that he wasn't going to "spin out a sermon at the end of this story" and then proceeded to write a paragraph telling us not to hate or be fearful, but instead to live a life of courage. Seriously, if I don't get the lesson from the story, it's not worth explaining it to me at the end. If you are Bert - you'll love this book. If you aren't enthralled by birds, you may want to pass.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    I like Pigeons; our pigeon Susan always visits with friends. Unfortunately I'm not ornithologist, peristerophile, or much of a bird watcher. But if you're really into birds/pigeons, India and the Himalayas, then this book is definitely for you. It's pretty well-written and very descriptive when it comes to the environment/nature/culture and the predators in the wild (eagles, tigers, leopards.) If I had to describe this book I'd say it's VERY cultured, which is why I give it 2 stars because I didn I like Pigeons; our pigeon Susan always visits with friends. Unfortunately I'm not ornithologist, peristerophile, or much of a bird watcher. But if you're really into birds/pigeons, India and the Himalayas, then this book is definitely for you. It's pretty well-written and very descriptive when it comes to the environment/nature/culture and the predators in the wild (eagles, tigers, leopards.) If I had to describe this book I'd say it's VERY cultured, which is why I give it 2 stars because I didn't completely dislike/hate it. I just wasn't as invested as I wanted to be. For me it was a very slow BORING read. Although the writing style can be engaging it was a little too descriptive; felt like a lot of INFO and I'm more interested in character driven stories. Gay-Neck goes through a spiritual journey of enlightenment; an epic adventure for a lone pigeon, who's mostly just existing. He starts of as the underdog learning to fly, goes through a family tragedy, has a family of his own, trains for war, comes back a veteran. Unfortunately it sounds much more entertaining than it actually is. I see this being a more interesting audio book; reading it out loud might have made it more entertaining. Other than that, the illustrations look nice.

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