What a strange book! When I first saw the cover, I thought, “Wow! An African American pre-1950 Newbery protagonist!” But I was wrong. Miss Hickory was not an African American. She was just a doll made of twigs and a hickory nut.
I wasn’t expecting to like another doll book. I didn’t really enjoy Hitty all that much, and there are many similarities. (authors in this era, really got a kick out placing dolls in birds’ nests for some reason) But I did like a lot of things about it. Parts of it are downright funny, especially when Miss Hickory gets her head eaten by the squirrel she is always insulting. I really liked the illustrations. They were very nicely done.
There were a few weird parts that I didn’t really get. The doe is by all appearances, shot by a hunter. The fawn follows her blood drops for a while and grieves her loss. The author even tells us that she is dead twice in the beginning of the book. In the list of characters it says “Doe: With God” and in the author’s note, she says that all the characters were still living, except doe. But then, when all the animals are lining up to look in the manger on Christmas Eve the doe lines right up with fawn, who doesn’t seem to think it’s all that remarkable. So either, doe wasn’t really dead, and fawn was just mistaken (and the author lied to us twice) or it was a ghost who was there as part of a Christmas miracle. Either way, the author could have done a better job explaining.
I looked to see if there were any other kids’ books published in 1946 that I liked better, but it didn’t seem to have that much competition, so I have no problem with it winning the 1947 Newbery.
I give it 3 out of 5 Newbery Pies.