Monday, May 27, 2013

Hickory-A book review

"The worst thing about new books is that they keep me from reading the old ones."
                               ~John Wooden

Title:  Hickory
Author: Palmer Brown

This charming tale recounts the story of a little mouse family that resides in the bottom of a grandfather clock that stands halfway up the stairs on a broad landing.  The family members are a mother, a father and three children named, Hickory, Dickory and Dock.  Hickory, the oldest, is coming of age and wants to change residences, have some adventures, and move out of his cozy, familiar home. The day comes when he gets the chance to do just that and after receiving special gifts from his family he sets out on his journey. He leaves to search for a place in the world that will belong totally to him.  He treks across the farmer's field (his home still in sight) and finds the perfect location.  He discovers a large rock that some rabbit had abandoned and beside it is an old, discarded pickle jar that he uses for a sunroom. All settled and ready, he realizes something is missing....he has no one to talk to or share life with and he becomes lonely.  A grasshopper saves him from a tragedy and they become fast friends.  Her name is Hope but he calls her Hop and together, throughout the summer, they explore the world around them and enjoy each's others company immensely.  But seasons come to an end and sadly Hickory discovers that Hope too is seasonal.  He encourages her to run away with him and follow the sun so she will remain in good health and they can be together as lifelong friends.  Unfortunately Hickory learns a valuable life lesson that is disheartening...there is a season for everything...and Hope's season must end.  The author writes;  "the sun was bright, and there was not a cloud in the sky, but the air was cool and dry and very still.  That night on these owl-haunted upper ridges there would be hard frost." This gentle acknowledgment of Hickory and Hope not being successful leaves the reader wide open to discussion and understanding of how the tale ends.  It is a wonderful story and Palmer Brown is both the author and the illustrator.  His precise line drawings are reminiscent of Beatrix Potter and add much to the richness of the text.

About the Author:

Palmer Brown was born in 1920 and died in 2012.  He was born in Chicago and attended Swarthmore and the University of Pennsylvania.  He was the author of five books:  Hickory, Cheerful, The Silver Nutmeg, Beyond the Pawpaw Trees and Something for Christmas.  He both authored and illustrated the books.  He uses precise line drawings and his language is beautiful.  The stories are whimsical with beautiful imagery.  He served in the military for 4 years in WW11.  He didn't begin drawing until he wrote PawPaws and only then did he decide to illustrate. Here is a quote a found regarding his first book, "If it has any moral at all, it is hoped that it will always be kept a deep secret between the author and those of his readers who still know that believing is seeing." He was a contributor to Woman's Day and Gourmet Magazine.

Book Review Rating:   9    (close to perfection)

Read on and read always!

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