Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Miss Hickory (1947)

Miss Hickory was kind of an odd book about a doll made from an apple twig with a hickory nut head.  Miss Hickory, unlike Hittie, (another doll character from a Newbery book) is able to move and interact with animals and her environment, but she is never shown interacting with humans. 

Left behind (and outside in New Hampshire) when the family in the house moves to Boston for the winter, Miss Hickory despairs of ever surviving.  Her corncob house taken over by a chipmunk, she has no place to spend the winter.  Finally Crow takes pity on her and helps her find an abandoned robin's nest to live in for the winter.

Miss Hickory is quite resourceful.  When her clothes start to fall apart, she improvises with things she finds in the forest.  She discovers that she loves to skate on the frozen streams.  She finds berries frozen under the snow to eat.  She helps the pheasant hens start a ladies aid society. 

The one thing that characterizes Miss Hickory most is her hard head.  She says that it is because it is a hickory nut.  She doesn't take easily to change.  She has a hard time believing her animal friends or trusting them. 

Near the end of the book Spring has finally arrived.  Miss Hickory has to find a new home when the robins return to their nest, and decides to look into Squirrel's hole in the tree.  She hadn't seen him for some time and thought he had moved on.  To her great surprise, and dismay, she found him home.  I say to her dismay because Squirrel, having eaten all of his nuts, needed food and saw Miss Hickory's head as his salvation.  It was at this point that the head started realizing how hard it was and all of the things Miss Hickory had missed because of it.  So then the image the author gives is a bit funny.  The body of Miss Hickory wanders around and climbs the old, gnarled apple tree and sticks the neck part of the twig into a crack.

Good things come of this, however.  Miss Hickory becomes a scion, bringing new life to the old tree.  ( defines scion as "a shoot or twig, especially one cut for grafting or planting; a cutting.")   

Bailey, Carolyn Sherwin.  Miss Hickory.  The Viking Press, 1946.

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