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Dhan Gopal Mukerji
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Gay Neck The Story Of A Pigeon

3.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,639 Ratings  ·  154 Reviews
1928 Newbery Medal Winner

The story of the training of a carrier pigeon and its service during the First World War, revealing the bird's courageous and spirited adventures over the housetops of an Indian village, in the Himalayan Mountains, and on the French battlefield.
Published by Bantam Doubleday Dell (first published July 1st 1927)
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Phil Jensen
Dec 25, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jen
Feb 05, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery, kids, 2008
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
...more
Jeannette
Feb 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Wendy
Jul 03, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery
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.
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
...more
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
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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,
...more
Judy
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-medal, birds
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
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Ashley
May 26, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, newbery-winners, blog
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
...more
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
...more
Margaret
This has been a lovely book to read. I think the story has held up well and is still relevant today, 77 years after it was written. I loved the wonderful black and white illustrations which look like they might have originally been from wood block carvings.

I also especially liked it when Gay-Neck himself talked in the story, I wasn't expecting it and I thought several things he said were interesting and fun, for example:

Speaking of geese, he said, "Compared with them, we pigeons seem paragons o
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Linds
Jul 14, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-win
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sue
This was a really great story. Written in 1927 it gives fascinating details of training pigeons but in the course of the story. A boy in India has a pigeon that he trains and then becomes a carrier pigeon for the Allies in WWI. The story is told in an engaging way with quiet wisdom from holy men he encounters in his travels. There are also interesting stories of travels in the jungle, a hunt for a mad buffalo, and the way to heal from fear. I was surprised to learn that I really enjoyed this New ...more
Juli Anna
Well, this book was certainly a step in the right direction. Mukerji writes about raising pigeons in early-20th-century India was lyricism and humor. By today's standards, the book lacks thrills and narrative arc (it's kind of boring), but the unusual subject matter and Mukerji's descriptions of the mountains and jungles of India make up for it. I found the switching between POVs a little odd and contrived at times, but so far this is the earliest Newbery I've read that comes close to creating c ...more
Nicole
Jun 09, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kidlit
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.
Kristen
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-winners
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.
Steph
Mar 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm glad I have a friend like Jon Bridge who encourages me to read books with titles such as this.

And, for the record, I'm pretty freaking amazed that this was written in 1928 and it's this well done. Impressive.


Now suddenly ruse the cry from many house-tops: "Gay-Neck! Gay-Neck! Gay-Neck!"

Emily
Sep 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily by: Newberry
Shelves: newbery
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.
Kati
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.
Elizabeth
I found Gay-Neck, The Story of a Pigeon, the most interesting of the early Newbery Medal’s I’ve read so far, barring The Voyages of Dr. Doolittle. That’s not to say it enthralled me, but it was better than the dense and confusing The Dark Frigate and a much better story than any of the myths in Tales from Silver Lands. It was also a very quick read for me, which I’m citing as a positive since I was beginning to fall behind in my reading when I started Gay-Neck.

Much of the interest of Gay-Neck, f
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Melissa
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 tha ...more
Fred Kohn
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.
Joy
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jill
Nov 21, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ages 10+
Shelves: newbery-medal
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 ...more
Aimee
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Katrinia17
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newberry
I really enjoyed this book. This is surprising for me. I just have the goal of reading all Newbery winners and so I picked this up not knowing a thing about it. I found out it was about a pigeon. I hate birds. I hate pigeons the most. I was not at all interested and it sat around for a good while.

I started reading and couldn't believe that I was on the edge of my seat at times. I mean...for crying out loud, it's a story about a pigeon! Things shouldn't be this dang tense. But they were and the
...more
Debbie
86 1928: Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji (Dutton)


9/21/13 197 pages

In the India of the early 1900's, boys commonly kept pigeons. Gay Neck is one of them. The author shares much about the care and training of pigeons and their habits. The story also shows how they were used during WW I. A recurring theme in the book is the danger of fear.
"There was no doubt that the silence of the night was more than mere stillness; stillness is empty, but the silence that beset us was full
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Kristine
I think this may be one of the hardest books I've ever had to rate.

In the 1920s the John Newbery award was established to help encourage excellence in children's literature - a newly developing genre. From what I can tell this isn't too much later after the time (according to the James Garfield book I'm reading) families would sit down and the father would read Othello to his children at night.

So do I rate this book as it would have been ranked in the 1920s? Because its biggest barrier, the fo
...more
Kathi
Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery
Here is another book from the 1920’s that I tried to read quickly to “get it over with,” so that I could move on to the “better” books of the more recent Newbery years. “Gay-Neck, The Story of a Pigeon” gave me more interesting reading than I expected, however.

The book, by Dhan Gopal Mukerji, reflects the author’s youth in India in the early 1900’s. While living in Calcutta, he tells about his beloved carrier pigeons, their lives and their training. Mukerji then moves with his family to the Him
...more
Benji Martin
OK, so I've finished Gay-Neck, and I guess I see why it was in the Newbery discussion. I don't think it was better than Downright Dencey, though. For some reason, the Newbery Committees of the 1920's only saw it fit to give the award to men. Some will say, "But not so fast. Several women won honors those years. The problem with that is, there were no honors back then, they just gave a list of a few runners-up. They weren't back-labeled as Newbery Honors until much later. You and I both know that ...more
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Children's Books: Winner (no Honors) from 1928 - Gay Neck: The Story of a Pigeon 11 90 Jan 05, 2016 07:00PM  
Newbery Books: April 2013 Read - Gay Neck: Story of a Pigeon 2 14 May 01, 2013 10:19AM  
Help me! 1 14 Apr 30, 2009 07:10PM  
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Dhan Gopal Mukerji was an author of children's books. Born in a small village in India on July 6, 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 Dhan Gopal Mukerji took his own life, in New York City. He was forty-six years of age.
Dhan Gopal M
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More about Dhan Gopal Mukerji...
“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 qualites into 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!!!” 3 likes
“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?” 2 likes
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