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