Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Good Good Pig - Sy Montgomery

Long ago, in a faraway land called Indiana, a girl named Sandy Smith lived on a farm. She ran barefoot all summer long, thrived on caring for dozens of barn cats, and raised pigs and cows to competitively show in a group called 4H. She learned quickly that cows were pretty dumb animals, with brains the size of peas, and that pigs were just plain cool. They were smart, pig-headed (thus the term was born), ornery and had a mind and spirit all their own. When the adult Sandy saw a book about a pet pig named Christopher Hogwood, she knew she must read it.

Christopher Hogwood was born a runt, failing to thrive amongst his litter, when his owners phoned Sy Montgomery and her husband Howard, asking them to please take him in and care for him. Normally, runts are immediately killed on a farm, but there was just something special about this little one that couldn't be denied. Sy and her husband were both freelance writers, naturalists, and serious animal-lovers, so they couldn't resist.

Under Sy and Harold's protection, Christopher was loved and nurtured back to health. Christopher began to make a name for himself when he continuously foiled every gate and lock, and escaped to visit neighbors. Townspeople began stopping by to donate their slops for the ever-growing pig (topping out at almost 750 pounds!), and witness Chris's unadulterated joy in consuming his meals. His fan club would also come by to participate in "pig spa", which involved bathing, rubbing and grooming Christopher. The menagerie was made complete with Sy's cockatiel, who rode around on her head, "the Ladies", a group of chickens that resembled cheerful nuns, and a devoted, energetic border collie, Tess.

Sy also tells of her personal journeys...of finding forgiveness in her heart for her dying parents, of traveling the world to write about pink dolphins, tigers, gorillas, snakes and spiders, and of the community that was touched in different but important ways by this very special pig.











Christopher getting a belly rub from Sy

Most books about animal true stories generally make me cry...this one was no exception. To me, it was like a cross between Charlotte's Web and Dewey - special animals that are loved and adopted by entire communities. No, it probably will not win any literary awards, and perhaps it had some extraneous information, like Sy's writing projects, various pig breeds, etc.. But this is a novel that is written from the heart. Sy Montgomery is one of those persons that would give her life for an animal, any animal, and innately understands them, maybe even better than other humans.

If you like animals, this book will warm your heart and remind you that peace and unconditional love can be found in the strangest places. Even in the company of a spirited, 750-pound pig.

3.5 out of 5 stars


31 comments:

Melody said...

I find pigs adorable! This sounds like a good read, Sandy!

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

I loved Charlotte's Web....really, one of my favorite early childhood reads. Maybe that explains my love of pigs. I have a good friend down in LA who rescued a pig from the local shelter (yes, in the city LA we're talking here). He now lives in her house, topping out at 400 lbs, has his own bedroom and real queen bed he sleeps in each night. Go figure.

Susan said...

Hey, even George Clooney has a pet pig that sleeps in his house! He probably hires someone to do all the bathing and general pig maintenance, I'm guessing. :D

This sounds like a heart-warming story, Sandy. And I had fun reading about little Sandy Smith running around barefoot on the farm! :)

Jackie (Farm Lane Books) said...

Sy sounds like the sort of person I'd love as a friend! I'm not sure about reading the book, but I think hearing the story over a series of evning meals with wine would be great!

Beth F said...

I know pigs are really smart -- I loved this review! Pigs are our favorites when we go to the county fair.

Julie P. said...

I read this book a few years ago, and it stayed with me all this time. Of course, I cried, but I laughed a lot too!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

Well Mr. Hogwood certainly isn't a runt anymore! The animal books always get me, I guess that's probably why I don't read that many of them.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This looks wonderful! I think that I too like pigs because of Charlotte's web! But I tend to avoid animal stories unless I need a good cathartic cry!

caite said...

Is it very wrong that all I can think about now is bacon?

Kaye said...

I loved your intro! I think the author missed the boat not giving the pig the last name of HogWILD instead of Hogwood.

Great review, Sandy.

sherry said...

I'll never forget Mrs. Hill reading Charlotte's Web to our class. She cried a little too & I'm sure she'd read it many times before. And Dewey -- such an old soul.

Great review.

Butterfly said...

I loved Dewey! That should be a fun read, too!

bermudaonion said...

750 pounds? That's a lot of pig! I've had this book for a while and hope to read it soon. Great review.

stacybuckeye said...

Animal stories always make me cry and it looks like ths would be no exception! Whatever happened to that Sandy Smith? ;)

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

Your first paragraph grabbed me and I had to read the rest and then come and comment. You are a very good writer in your own right. (Did I say that right?)

We had pigs when my kids were kids and we will agree with your assessment - very obstinate and very smart.

kaye said...

sounds like a really good book.

savidgereads said...

This sounds like a weepy and a half. And like a real life Charlottes Web in a way which is quite magical.

GMR said...

Enjoyed the review! At first, I did not realize that it was a true story! All the better as this sounds like a wonderful tale indeed....and the picture is priceless!

Thanks for sharing!

Jenners said...

Love your intro ... it sucked me in and then I was like "Oh wait ... she is writing about herself!!"

I love me a good pig story -- with the only one I've ever read being "Charlotte's Web."

Zibilee said...

I love animal stories and a story about pigs seems like just the book for me! You know, I have debated with my husband for many an hour about the merits of owning a pig, but for now the answer is still no. Don't think I won't keep trying though! I am glad you loved the book. This one is a must read for me.

Kimberly said...

What a sweet story! My family has hogs and cows...I love them all!

Kim Frazier said...

I feel the same way about pigs and animal stories! The merits of growing up as a farm girl and the benefits of 4H!

Frances said...

Ooo, I do have a thing for pigs. Such smart animals unlike those cows you mention. And I want to attend that same dinner Jackie suggests. Maybe one day we will all find ourselves at the same table. What an interesting read you offer us today!

Alice Teh said...

Hi Sandy! I'm not sure I find them adorable, but I sure don't eat pork... This one sounds like a good read. I do know I love Charlotte's Web. :)

The Bumbles said...

I can see why you were drawn to this one. I bet if Dewey was a barn cat he and Christopher would have gotten along famously!

Catherine Ensley said...

I love your highly personalized review. Our kids did the 4-H thing too. Our funniest stories are about our experiences with sheep. But pigs really do have more intelligence and personality, plus the kids made far more money on them. Looks like a book I would enjoy. Thanks for the review!

Anna said...

I've had a soft spot for pigs since reading Charlotte's Web as a little girl. This sounds like a sweet story.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I really like animal stories, but have to be in the right mood for them as they can be a little sappy sometimes. I've had this one on my shelf for quite a while and just haven't been inclined to pick it up.

Jeane said...

Sy Montgomery is one of my new favorite authors. This was the first book of hers I read, and now I want to read many more!

C.B. James said...

I don't have a thing for pigs but this does look like fun. I thing I agree with Frances though, it's a story I'd like to hear over a meal and a glass of wine.

It would be a vegetarian meal, mind you. I've several very good recipes.

C.B. James said...

I meant I agree with Jackie.