Monday, December 23, 2013

December Doll Reads: Miss Hickory, and Happy Christmas Wishes!

  We're well into December and I've only reviewed one book! I'm not keeping up with all my promises.But Emma, I am reading The Great Gatsby right now! (Well, not this second, obviously.)
  This post is dedicated to "Miss Hickory" by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey, another of my favourite books from my childhood.

  Miss Hickory was originally published in 1946 and won the Newbery Medal for children's literature the following year. The story concerns Miss Hickory, a doll made from an apple wood twig, with a hickory nut for a head,and what happens when her human family goes away for the winter and leaves her behind--outside, no less. Miss Hickory is used to living under the lilac bush in the summer, and having her neat little corn cob house moved inside every year, to winter on the kitchen window sill.

Before it all begins,Miss Hickory fastidiously cleans her corn cob house.

She now has to face a hard winter, with nowhere to live once her house is taken over by chipmunks, and danger everywhere. Even her 'friend' the squirrel takes an uncomfortable interest in her hickory nut head.

Squirrel surprises Miss Hickory in her bird nest home.
  Miss Hickory was cranky, and stubborn, and obsessively orderly before all this happened to her, but she finds she can't control every little detail out in the big, wide world. She must clothe herself with what is available,live where she can, and cope with the animals around her.Her stubborness causes her to miss the miracle in the barn on Christmas eve, which all the animals line up to see.Squirrel describes it this way: 
 "In the barn," he told her, "Something wonderful happens there every Christmas Eve at midnight...Only we animals and the winged creatures see it.Large and small, wild and tame,of the Earth or with God, we all go over to the barn to watch for it, and no one is afraid of those larger than himself."

Animals from all over the world somehow appear to view the miracle on Christmas Eve.

  In the end,her constant lecturing to others is her undoing in a way. I won't spoil the end by telling you what happens. It's another tear jerker, and yet happy in  a way. (I tend to recommend a lot of books like that. What was the matter with me when I was a kid?! Maybe it was both cause and effect of reading all these books!)
  The illustrations, lithographs by Ruth Gannett,are beautiful. The shading gives them so much mood, and the detail is wonderful.They're the perfect match for the story.

One of the most beautiful pictures in the book. Miss Hickory on Christmas eve.

  I always loved the descriptions of what Miss Hickory made her various outfits out of:
"The woods were full of lovely stuffs for her sewing.Velvety leaves not yet dried and colored rose,gold,scarlet,and russet. Soft beautiful mosses of many different kinds:furry ones, that grew close to the ground;trailing ones;upstanding feathery ones like plumes.And each moss was green and everlasting.The tiny brown cones of the larch trees made excellent buttons."
Miss Hickory sews her winter clothes: a coat of moss, and a skirt of leaves.

  When I was in elementary school I did a book report on Miss Hickory, and I still have the project I did to go with my report.

Thinking about it, I guess my Miss Hickory qualifies as the first doll I ever made.(Please keep in mind this was elementary school!)

  We had an apple tree at the bottom of our back yard, and since I was as addicted to realism and detail then as I am now, I'm sure I used an apple twig for her body.(It was tough finding one with 'arms', and 'legs', and the appropriate 'fingers' and 'feet'.)

Her head is a hickory nut.

I have no idea now how I got the nut to stick to the twig body, but it has stayed attached for around 40 years, so whatever it was, I made a good choice. I think it must have been Elmers glue, since that's what we always had around. I seem to remember trying to sew real moss into a coat and having it fall apart on me. In the end I resorted to an old wash cloth, coloured green with a marker.Her skirt is real leaves though.

  I read Miss Hickory to my kids. They did like it, but I'm not sure they were very happy with the ending! The end might be a little upsetting for very young children.Pre-read it and judge for yourself, because no one knows your children as well as you do.Amazon recommends an age range of 7 to 12 for this book, and a grade level of 2 to 7, although I'm not sure you'll find many 7th graders reading this type of book.) The book may still be in print, but in any case, it's not hard to find a copy, and it's not usually expensive.
   Cuddle up Christmas eve and read a nice book with your kids.We read Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol every Christmas eve, but I always end up being the only one still awake long before the end.
  I won't be here again until after Christmas, so I will wish everyone a very happy Christmas!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks in advance for your comments.