About Writing this Book
The Adventures of Hickory Dock was a genuine oddity for me. I didn't plan on writing it. I was plugging away at Treasures of Darkness Treasures of Light—back when none of those books were published and I thought it was only going to be one book—then one particular week, for no particular reason I can discern, that nursery rhyme got STUCK in my head. Literally!!! I found it playing in the background of my mind whenever I paused... THE WHOLE WEEK. I wound up singing it, reciting it, rapping it (yes... rapping Hickory Dickory Dock—I know that's strange, but I am unashamed).
One morning getting ready for work I was singing it (or was I rapping it? Dunno). I stoped in frustration and said out loud, "God, why is that stuck in my head?"
What follows popped immediately into my head. "Hickory Dock lived in a cottage on the outskirts of a town he never knew the name of. He didn't even know the cottage was called a cottage. To him, it was simply the world. You see, he was a mouse. But not just any mouse. He was the great great great great great great great great grand-son of the original Hickory D. Dock. The one of whom such a great fuss was raised all those years ago with him running up and down a clock and it striking one and all that. However, the children of the family dock were not allowed to hear that tale, for in it lay a great secret."
Well, I immediately wrote that down and was inspired. It morphed a bit from there as you'll see in the book, but not much. I wrote the first 7 chapters in 4 days (a record for me). And in two weeks time I had around half the book written. The time since then has had its many ups and downs (more on that in the About page), but here at last is—frankly... one of my favorite things I've written—The Adventures of Hickory Dock.
Written for anyone with child-like wonder still hanging around inside them, regardless of their age. But, it will be most easily read by people 8 years old or older. Read aloud, it can be enjoyed by anyone from 5 to 150and yes both are arbitrary numbers. If a 3 year-old or a 160 year-old wants to read it, I will not begrudge him or her ;-)
The Adventures of
This mouse did Way more
than just run up a clock!
A stormy wind wracks the “world” and Hickory is afraid again. His first ever glimpse of sunlight shatters the darkness and sparks an adventure he never would have imagined. Join Hickory Dock the Eighth Great and his new friends as they embark on a journey of discovery full of dangers, intrigues, daring leaps of faith, myths, and the folklore of the mouse world. An inexperienced young mouse, sheltered his whole life, Hickory knows the odds are stacked against him. Will he have the strength of heart needed for the road ahead? Grab your nap sack and venture with Hickory as he finds out what it truly means to bear the renowned name Dock.
The Adventures of Hickory Dock is a sweet and sentimental coming-of-age, adventure tale that will appeal to all ages. Get ready for an adventure of a lifetime.
SAMPLE from the book...
Hickory Dock lived in a cottage on the outskirts of a town he never knew the name of. He didn't even know the cottage was called a cottage. To him, it was simply the world. You see he was a mouse. But not just any mouse. He was the great great great great great great great great grandson of the original Hickory D. Dock. The one of whom such a great fuss was raised all those years ago with him running up and down a clock and it striking one and all that. However, the children of the Family Dock were not allowed to hear that tale, for in it lay a great secret.
Hickory Dock, a Cat, and the Clock
One spring morning Hickory Dock woke to find that his Uncle Trickery (or Unk as he preferred to be called) had already gone from the world. Aunt Plumella had quietly made breakfast, eaten, and gone to the attic before Hickory was awake as she commonly did when Unk was away. She’d left only mouse crumbs for Hickory to eat, and considering the fact that crumbs left by humans are very tiny—and mice eat those like a meal—you can imagine how small a mouse crumb would be. It’s really not much food at all, but Hickory ate it joyfully.
Looking up he said, “And thank you for the food I gratefully receive today.” He said it to the air, but not to Aunt Plumella. Hickory knew she didn’t care much for him. She hardly ever spoke to him—and never when Unk was away. But even still he always did his best to treat her with respect and follow the rules of the Family Dock.
It was cold that morning and a great wind had kicked up outside the world, shaking the walls and leaving Hickory scared. Unk once told him, “There is great danger outside the world, and you are too small, too weak, and too… gray to face it. Maybe one day you’ll be brave enough to come with me beyond the world, but I doubt it.”
“I am brave,” Hickory said.
“No. You only think you are. That’s not bravery. That’s silliness.”
The conversation had hurt his feelings and stuck with him, but today he wondered whether Unk had been right. Maybe I’m not brave. That wooshing and creaking sound seems like it would be very dangerous, and I don’t think I could be brave in that at all.
The world, as Unk called it, was an old run down cottage that a human family had abandoned years ago. It had an attic. Aunt Plumella called the attic her personal space, and Hickory was not allowed to disturb her there no matter what. There were two bedrooms upstairs, a study downstairs, a kitchen with an old wood burning stove that Hickory had never seen a fire in, and a door that had never been opened in as long as he could remember. The windows had been covered long ago, so no hint of sunlight made its way through. As human houses go it was shabby, but for a small family of mice, it was almost large enough to be called a world. So Hickory never questioned his uncle about it.
The wind wracked the world a second time and something from outside struck the kitchen window. A shard of glass broke away and plummeted to the floor only inches from Hickory. It shattered on impact and glass flew in every direction. A few pieces struck Hickory and stuck in his fur. He was thankful none of the strange flying pieces landed in his eyes.
“What’s that?” Hickory said as dust began floating like magical little fireflies through the beam of light that newly shone through the window. “It’s twinkly!” he said with joy, and ran to the place on the wall where the beam of light landed. It illuminated a dreary patch of wooden floorboard. When Hickory reached it, it was unimpressive. He followed the dancing bits of light with his eyes and traced them back to the hole in the window.
“That’s not dreary.” He began bounding up the cupboards to the counter and on toward the window sill. He had nearly reached the bright, shining, joy-inspiring opening when—
“Hickory Dickory Dock! What do you think you are doing?” It was Unk’s bellowing voice. Hickory turned and Unk was standing on the counter, arms crossed, scowling at him.
“I’m… uh… well, I was just….” He pointed to the window. “That part of the world broke off. It almost fell on me, and I was just going to—”
“What, Young Mouse, are the four rules of the Family Dock?”
Hickory answered in a dejected monotone. “Don’t leave the world; obey Aunt and Unk, especially Unk; go to sleep when I’m told to; and never go near the clock.”
“Right. And what were you about to do?” Unk unfolded his arms and tugged smugly at his whiskers.
“I wasn’t going to go outside!” Hickory said.
“That is not what it looked like to me, Young Mouse.”
“I wouldn’t leave the world. I was just going to have a peek. It looked—” He wasn’t sure of the right word. “Pretty… I think.”
Unk’s scowl deepened. “Hmm. Well, that’s not pretty. Pretty is… something else altogether. I’ll just have to find a way to block that up. You could have fallen out of the world. It’s a good thing I came back for my thimble, or you may have gotten trapped out there. Who knows what would have happened to you then?”
Hickory hadn’t thought about that. That’s a dangerous not-pretty thing. I guess it’s good Unk came home when he did.
Unk blocked the opening with a very large old brown shoe. It had long black laces, and what Unk didn’t notice was how those laces dangled out the hole in the window and whipped around in the wind. He gave Hickory a lecture about the four rules of the Family Dock, and when he finished, he added a fifth, forbidding Hickory to go near the shoe as well. When Hickory asked for the umpteenth time what a clock was, Unk responded as he always had. “You’re not allowed to know until you’re older.” Then he left the world through a small hole in the floor that Hickory also was not allowed to go near.
Hickory was alone again. How am I supposed to stay away from what I don’t know to avoid? He sat on the kitchen floor remembering the dancing light. It was pretty. Even if was dangerous.
Hickory heard a bumping sound and looked up. On the window sill, the shoe moved.
“What in the world?”
It moved again. This time more forcefully. It bumped against the broken window again and again. Hickory backed away. He’d nearly made it out of the kitchen when there was a great scratching sound and the shoe pulled tight against the glass. Spidery lines worked their way through the glass away from the shoe, and suddenly the window shattered into a hundred pieces and the shoe was yanked outside. Hickory heard something with claws scrabbling against the outside wall of the world and then two pointy ears peeked over the sill, then two eyes, whiskers, a clawed paw, and another clawed paw. It was a cat. Hickory had never seen a cat before, but mice are instinctively afraid of cats. And it’s a good thing too, because cats think mice are fun to eat.
“Hullo, little mousy,” the cat said. “You look more fun than a smelly old shoe.” The cat launched itself from the window sill and charged after Hickory.
Naturally Hickory ran with all his might down the hall, passing over, under and around obstacles the cat could not avoid. He sprinted up the stairs and banged on the door to Aunt Plumella’s attic. “Aunt Plumella!” he called, and “Aunt!” he shouted, but she would not answer.
The cat started up the stairs and Hickory was trapped.
He felt bad that he was about to disobey Aunt and Unk, but it was either that or find out what cats do to mice. So he reached under the door, and pushed, and squeezed, and shimmied until he popped out the other side. Just then the cat collided with the door.
The cat reached a large paw under the door and did its best to find him.
When Hickory was sure the cat couldn’t get in he turned away. He was in a wide room filled with the odd kind of knickknacks that people keep in attics. One in particular so instantly held his interest he almost forgot about the cat. The object was made of cherry wood, was nearly as tall as a man, and was built like a cabinet with a big opening cut in the front. Inside the opening was a long brass pendulum. Above the opening it looked kind of like a house fit for a mouse, but where Hickory would have expected a door there was only a round white part with numbers on it, and what looked like two whiskers. One was fat and the other was long and skinny. The skinny whisker spun around on the white circle. The fat one seemed to just sit there. By now you’ve probably guessed what it was, but Hickory Dock had never seen a grandfather clock.
“Meow, Mousy!” the cat called from the other side of the door, but Hickory ignored it. Instead he began making his way toward the wooden thing with spinning whiskers.
“Aunt Plumella! I’m sorry! I had to come in. There’s a…” I don’t know what it’s called… “Well, I just had to.” He expected that she would appear any moment and scold him for invading her personal space, but minutes passed and no Aunt Plumella. There were a great many interesting things around the attic: an old wooden train set that Hickory was immediately fond of, a rocking horse, a box of old books. Everything was interesting, but nothing so much as the clock. It’s like it’s calling to me. I’ll explore that first. Maybe Aunt Plumella is somewhere near it.
Hickory made his way toward the clock past knickknacks and boxes. Now, Hickory was the great great great great great great great great grandson of the original Hickory Dickory Dock. And when a mouse like Hickory bears the same name as all ten generations before him, mice call that mouse an Eighth Great. Eighth Greats are very special, and always enthralled with clocks.
As Hickory approached the clock, the brass pendulum started swinging back and forth. When he got closer, the clock struck eleven. Hickory had never heard a clock strike any time. It made him smile. “Well, that’s a beautiful sound.” Funny I’ve never heard it before.
Just then Aunt Plumella appeared on a shelf near the top of the clock. She was holding her ears at the sound. “What caused that?” she asked, and the answer presented itself straight away.
“Aunt Plumella!” Hickory shouted as soon as the chimes stopped.
Hickory expected Aunt Plumella to be angry, but when she spoke she sounded scared. “Hickory Dickory Dock! You are not allowed to be in here!” She quickly leapt from shelf to clock and scurried down to meet him. “You’re all right aren’t you, My Young Mouse?” she gasped. “Look at you. Is that glass in your fur?” she began carefully picking it out then brushing her paw over his fur with motherly care.
“I don’t know what it is. That’s part of why I’m in here. A piece of the world almost fell on me, and then after that a big pointy-eared thing with whiskers called me mousy and started chasing me.”
“A cat! A cat got in the cottage?”
“What’s a cat?” he asked, then wondered something more. “What’s a cottage?”
Plumella waffled. “I mean… the world, Dear… and what you met was a cat. They eat mice. That is all you need to know about them. Now we’d better hurry and get you out of here. You know this is my private space and you’re not allowed in here.”
“I know. I’m sorry, but the cat chased me up the stairs. It’s outside the door right now.”
“Oh dear! But you can’t stay in here.” She folded her hands anxiously and looked around for some clue of what to do.
Hickory was confused. Aunt Plumella had just been kinder to him than she had ever been. But she’s going to make me go back out with the cat? He was instantly more sad than he could ever remember being.
A look of resolve came over Plumella. “Hickory, you’re going to have to go.”
“But cats eat mice!”
Plumella smiled a bittersweet smile and caressed his whiskery cheeks. “Don’t fret, My Little Mouse. There’s no going back out there. With a cat in the cottage, you’re going to have to go outside.”
His voice filled with awe. “Outside?”
“Yes, Hickory. Your uncle is going to be very angry with me… with us, but—” Across the room a little Christmas bell jingled. Plumella was suddenly frantic. “Oh, Hickory, there’s no time to explain! Quick! Follow me!” She ran to a nearby crack in the floorboard, gave it a tug, and a small section pulled away to reveal a passage. She took a small satchel from a hiding place inside and draped it over Hickory’s shoulder. It’s something of note that mice, as you probably know, do not wear clothing like humans. They wear their fur. So what a satchel was, and why Plumella was putting it on him, Hickory could not have guessed.
“Take this, Hickory. You’ll need it.” She looked at him tenderly. “Oh, Little Mouse, I’m afraid many things will be confusing for you. Whatever happens, know that I love you… and I did my best to keep you safe.” The bell jingled again. “Hurry, Hickory! Go! Follow the passage to the light!” With that she pushed Hickory through the opening and closed it up again.
He was alone in the dark, and his mind was spinning. Aunt Plumella loves me? I thought she couldn’t stand me. A creaking came from the floor back in the attic. I should hurry like she said, but it’s very hard to see in here.
Hickory followed the passage until it turned sharply downward. There he lost his footing and tumbled through a hole in the floor, plummeting a long way until he landed in a small bundle of hay and twigs. When he regained himself he noticed glittering bits of dust passing through a beam of light farther down the passage. He followed the beam like he had before, only this time he’d been told to go outside. He slowly approached the opening and took a deep breath.
With that, Hickory Dock stepped outside the world.