Saturday, February 25, 2017


Hickory. Palmer Brown. 1978. 42 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Halfway up the stairs of an old farmhouse, on the broad landing, bright with rose-patterned carpet, stood a tall grandfather clock, ticking time away.

Premise/plot: Hickory, a mouse, leaves his comfortable existence (in a clock in a house) and his family behind as he ventures to move outside into the country side following the example of the field mice. He becomes quite chummy with a grasshopper, Hop, as he makes a new life for himself. But life is fleeting, even more fleeting than he thought. Hop embraces life--every moment of it--fully aware that she'll not survive past summer. Hickory and Hop don't want to see summer come to an end--and set out on a quest to save her life by heading south.

My thoughts: Hickory is not cutesy animal fantasy. It isn't. This early chapter book is sad, bittersweet. The friendship between Hickory and Hop is wonderful to see. But opening the heart to love, to life, to friendship means opening the heart to loss and grief. Hickory will lose Hop. Death is certain and inevitable. How do you live life in face of coming death? How do you make the most of every day? These are heavy topics for an early chapter book. And the book is gentle, I suppose, in dealing with these philosophical questions.

I am so very glad I never read Hickory as a child. I am glad I read it as an adult.

Favorite quotes:
"All stories have their endings in their beginnings, if you know where to look." (10)
"Time is going, never staying, always flowing, ever saying: gone!" (41)

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

J.G. said...

Wow, this does sound like very serious stuff -- but maybe children are more ready for this sort of thing than we know. The more realistic books from my childhood stayed with me longer, and this could have been one of those.