Thursday, April 4, 2013

All Creatures Great and Small

My sister and I launched our book challenge in February and I read my first book within two weeks.   Then I got wrapped up in a few other books and unintentionally put the challenge on the back burner. 

The challenge was to read (and blog about) at least five of the ten books on our individual lists, and for my second book I choose All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot.  Admittedly, going into this book, I already knew I would love it because I read it back in high school, but since that was 15-16 years ago, I was up for a re-reading.  (In fact, before Kati put it on my list, I had already toyed with the idea of adding it to my reading list for the year.) 

 All Creatures Great and Small is the first book in a series of five, though each book could also be read alone.  It is part autobiography, part fiction.  (If you are as geeky as me, you may also enjoy this Wikipedia article that sorts out the facts and reveals the true names of the main characters.)  Herriot is a veterinary surgeon, newly graduated from vet school and landing his first position in a small rural English town, tending to farm animals and the occasional pet.  The book is told in the first person where each chapter or small grouping of chapters chronicles a new case or situation.  There is a conversational, story tone that is easy to become immersed in.

If you love animals, you'll love this book.  If you love medical drama, you'll love this book.  BUT even if you love neither, this book may still be for you as the stories go beyond the surface and dig into the people behind the animals.  More than simply giving a play-by-play of emergencies and how they are remedied, Herriot shares the conversations and feelings and personalities of the characters he encounters. He talks of his friendship with his veterinary partner and how he meets his wife.

My only caution is that these books are for older readers.  I know my Maddie (age 8) would enjoy the plot, but there is bad language interspersed in conversation throughout the book and a few medical situations are dramatic, gruesome, or do not end well.

Ironically, after I finish my current book, I plan to read  Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse, the second in the Call the Midwife series by Jennifer Worth which was written in response to an article asking for "a midwife somewhere to do for midwifery what James Herriot did for vets."

Have you read any of James Herriot's book? 


  1. Sounds like a great book. I may have to add it to my (ever growing) list :)

  2. Yes- all of them! I giggled quietly during the night while nursing Eliana and devoured those stories. I've also read aloud the first book to my big boys (last year) and, by doing so, was able to leave out the language. :)

  3. All my boys listen to the Treasury on CD at night. I bought an illustrated version, and they've read and re-read it a few times.


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