1947: Miss Hickory (finally, a decapitation)


Laurinda’s Rating: 1.5

The 1947 Newbery Medal Winner, Miss Hickory, is about a doll made from twigs and a hickory nut. Forgotten under the lilac bush when the family leaves, Miss Hickory is abandoned to fend for herself. Basically, the book goes like this: talking animal tries to do something friendly, Miss Hickory rebuffs the offer rudely and continues on her way. She then misses out on something interesting or wonderful. Continue ad nauseum.

This isn’t the first book where Sally and I have jokingly wished death upon the main characters, just so the book would end. It is, however, the first in which our wish was granted. After Miss Hickory ventures into Squirrel’s house, hoping that he had abandoned it, he eats the hickory nut of which her head is made. He was starving and she had insulted him one to many times. Oddly, her body continues to live and thrive; she stumbles out of his den, climbs up the apple tree, and is miraculously transformed into a flowering graft on the old tree.

Miss Hickory is, to put it nicely, a persnickety, cantankerous, ill-humoured, unsympathetic main character. So, yes, I was cheering for the Squirrel in the death scene. The secondary characters are numerous and make only sporadic appearances, so I wasn’t drawn in by them either. The whole book reads as a weird mash-up of natural history, religion, and animals. In one chapter, a wild heifer adopts a fawn as a friend, while the next is a retelling of the Christmas story stable scene. The chapters are rather episodic, almost disconnected, like Miss Hickory’s head and body. Really, the only semi-redeeming characteristic of the book is the absurdity of it all. Don’t bother reading this one.



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