This book is dedicated to "My father, a man whose job was killing pigs." It is about the 11-year-old boy, Rob Peck, and his best friend, Pinky the pig. At the beginning of the book, Rob is skipping school because he was being made fun of for being a shaker, when he sees his neighbor's cow in the middle of giving birth. He pulls the calf out of the cow, then pulls the goiter that it was choking on out of it's throat. As a reward, his neighbor gives him a piglet, who he names Pinky. As Rob grows up over the course of the book, his views on death, ("And that was the end of Mr.Toad") among other things, change ("The only sound a rabbit makes is when it dies. Like a newborn baby it sounds, so mournful.") (These are far from exact quotes, BTW). When the book ends, Rob is 13. ("11 is a boy, but 13 is a man.") His father, Haven, can not shoot a deer to eat that winter, so they must kill Pinky for food. Rob kills the pig himself, a sign that he is finally ready to take care of the farm on his own. "It was a day no pigs would die" is not the last line, but what Rob says at his father's funeral when the entire butcher shop closes down to attend.

I read this book in my 9th grade Pre AP English class, and while some may consider that a little too old to be reading it, my teacher thought (in my opinion, correctly) that some of the topics discussed in the book needed older kids to interpret them. Rob's father is not supposed to be the bad guy, he is merely trying to get Rob to grow up, because he knows Rob will have to take care of the farm soon. The events in the book are based on the Robert Newton Peck's childhood.