My parents divided our garage in half with a wall of bookcases. While I checked out tons of books from the public library, this home library was a convenient way to satisfy sudden reading urges and a true treasure trove. Need a new book but the library is closed? Need a new book, but not in the mood for the books you picked out while in a different mood at the library? To the garage! That’s where I found and fell in love with James Herriot’s ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL. I read that book and then the companion titles.
For whatever reason, I suddenly remembered that this week.
“Oh, hey, guys,” I said to my three thirteen-year-olds, “I remember a book I liked around your age. You like animals. It’s about a vet who lived in England and worked on farm animals around WWII time.” I was met with shrugs. The book sounded ooooold to them, and almost certainly boring. “Let’s just see…” I popped into the library app, saw the audiobook was available, turned it on, and…magic.
The boys were instantly captivated. As was I, once again.
Christopher Timothy’s reading is charming and perfect. Herriot’s characterizations of the people he met while attending the animals on the local farms are fantastic. Each person is unique and instantly seeable as such. Herriot is great at characterization.
And he’s just plain funny. His observations are funny. His eye for the best anecdotes of his inconsistent boss and the circumstances of each call are funny. His mostly deadpan reaction to all the fabulous peculiarities of people, place, and situations is funny. My sons laugh out loud with me as we listen, and we make time at the end of each day to listen to it even after we’re done with our nightly bedtime read-aloud from different book. Over the weekend, the boys raced to the car after their haircut because they wanted to get back to this audiobook. They didn’t even sigh in that self-pitying way trapped teenager have when I took the wrong turnoff on a long drive because that meant the drive would be longer and thus they’d have more time with All Creatures Great and Small. Now that’s proof of a good book.
I’m starting to get that vague pit of sadness in my belly that comes with knowing a great read is about to end. But there’s relief, at least: There are still three more books about this country vet practicing in England around WWII time. Not boring at all.