Text used:

Dell Publishing Co.,Inc.
Laurel-Leaf printing - July 1984

Recommended Activity Book to add to these exercises:
Portals to Literature:
A Day No Pigs Would Die
(The Perfection Form Company, Logan, Iowa)

Please do NOT contact me for answers to Chapter or Test questions. Your request will not be answered.








Chapter 1:

spar mine -  to make sport of -  a stuck pig -  Shaker -  Holstein -  pucker bush -  birthsop -  to be feathered -  prickers -  passel -  ridge -  hunkered -  gullet

Chapter 2:

lilac -  beholding -  goiter -  holler out -  lammis table -  plumping -  muslin -  succotash -  risers -  to cotton -  spruce gum -  sumac -  crazy quilt -  pomade -  render

Chapter 3:

to fret -  stout -  gosh'em Moses -  mattock -  kine -  twenty stone -  tomfool -  to blanket -  clergy -  weaned -  curdle -  flank


  1. The first few pages of a novel are of great importance. If the author does not succeed in getting the reader's attention, the book will be put away. In what ways is the first sentence " I should of been in school that April day. " an attention getter? What methods does the author further use in Chapter 1 to keep your attention.
  2. As you can see from the lists of "Vocabulary" words, the author uses some unusual terms, at least, unusual to you. Why does the author do that, knowing very well that only a few people would be familiar with the vocabulary of a Vermont farmer?
  3. Robert encounters Apron right after running away from another boy at school. Explain how Robert's feelings about that school incident might affect what he does with the cow.
  4. What qualities does Robert reveal in his struggle to help Apron birth her calf and rid her of the goiter? How would you have reacted in a similar situation? Why would it have been so different from Robert's behaviour?
  5. Give five examples illustrating that this story doesn't take place in present times.
  6. In these chapters quite a bit of references is made to the Shakers. For example, " I'd teach him not to make fun of Shaker ways. " (p.7); " ...when I sat next to him at Shaker Meeting. " (p.20); " 'Can't keep swine and kine under the same roof. Says so in the Book of Shaker.' " (p.26) Find out about the Shakers and in a few paragraphs tell something about their beliefs.
  7. In the poem Mending Wall , Robert Frost describes the fence that divides his land from that of his neighbour. In the poem, he says: Something there is that doesn't love a wall His neighbour and he don't really need a wall because
    He is all pine and I am apple orchard
    My apple trees will never get across
    And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
    He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbours.'
    On pages 21-22, Haven Peck explains to his son the necessity for fences. " A fence sets men together, not apart, " he says. Explain why " Good fences make good neighbours " What examples can you think of that support Haven Peck's view? What examples can you think of that contradicts his view? Based on your experience, do you think Peck and Robert Frost's neighbour are right?
  8. Haven and Lucy Peck never tell Robert that they are proud of him for helping Apron and her calf. But he seems to know they approve of what he did. Find and explain three things his parents say and do (or don't do) that show they love and admire Robert.
  9. Explain why Robert's father is so hesitant to accept the piglet as a present to his son? How is the problem solved? Explain why that was an acceptable solution.
  10. Explain Haven Peck's reasoning for keeping swine from kine ? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
  11. At the end of Chapter 3, while discussing a camping trip, Robert asks his father, " Was that stealing, Papa?" What answer does his father give? Is it a satisfactory one? Explain.

Idioms and Images

In this novel, the characters use certain words, which they consider to be every-day-ones. You, however, had to look them up in a dictionary. In turn, you may use words and phrases that may not be understood a hundred years from now, or even in other parts of the world where people speak English. For example, when you say, " I'm all ears ," you don't mean that you're just a pile of ears. What you really mean is that you're listening hard.

Figures of speech like " I'm all ears " are called idioms. Look at the idioms listed below and examine them. It's a pretty cool exercise, which doesn't mean that you'll have to wear gloves. Now, write an explanation of what each one means when it's actually used in speech. Then, try and figure out the relationship between the literal meaning and the actual meaning of the idiom.

  1. Jones beat around the bush.
  2. Sam has cold feet.
  3. Hey, you! Shake a leg!
  4. Has the cat got your tongue?
  5. The old farmer kicked the bucket.
  6. Yo! I have a bone to pick with you.
  7. That's it! That was the last straw.
  8. Chris is a chip off the old block.
  9. Stacy has a chip on her shoulder.
  10. Alex is boiling mad!
  11. Why do I always have to carry the ball (the can)?
  12. The police hauled him over the coals.
  13. This part of town has gone to the dogs.
  14. You might as well go the whole hog.
  15. The way he talks gets my goat.
  16. It's about fifty kilometers as the crow flies.
  17. Order what you like; I'll foot the bill.
  18. There's no doubt who rules the roost in this house.
  19. Who let the cat out of the bag?
  20. He jumped down my throat.

In the story, the farmers often use a special expressions. Such language which is typical of a specific region of a country is called a dialect. By using dialect in the story, the author creates a realistic picture of the Peck family and their neighbours.

Below are some examples of the dialect used in chapters 1-3. You are given the local expression as it is used in the book. Translate it into an expression which would be used by you.

  1. I'd sorry him good.
  2. He made sport of my clothes.
  3. I got a purchase on the calf's head.
  4. I'm preferenced to mend busted pants.
  5. Papa burdened me upstairs.
  6. I owe you a sorry.
  7. Do you idea how big that pig will get?
  8. Favor me by taking this pig.
  9. Come firstlight, we milked a bit of her.
  10. Her spit was a sad smell.

Deciding True or False

Test your understanding of what you read by deciding if the statements below or true or false. In your notebook write the number of the statement, followed by a T if the statement is true, an F if it is false. Afterwards, go back and rewrite each false statements to make it true.

  1. Robert Peck skips school because he wants to help with Apron's calving.
  2. One reason Rob helps Apron is that he doesn't want to run away from any more trouble.
  3. Robert helps deliver Apron's calf by calming her and getting her to lie down.
  4. Rob is bitten by Apron when he tries to free something from her throat.
  5. Robert passes out and is brought home by Mr. Tanner.
  6. Robert's father makes his living by being a full-time farmer.
  7. Haven Peck says that fences are a necessary evil to keep people apart.
  8. Rob is surprised to learn that Apron had two calves.
  9. As a reward for his help, Mr. Tanner gives Robert a piglet.
  10. Haven insists that Pinky have a separate pen because cows and pigs can't live under the same roof.

Chapters 1-3 - Chapters 4-5 - Chapters 6-8 - Chapters 9-10 - Chapters 11-12 - Chapters 13-15 - Final Test