Saturday, October 2, 2010

Clifford B. Hicks (1920–2010)

Word comes from North Carolina that the writer Clifford Hicks has died. Clifford Hicks wrote sixteen children’s books, one of which, Alvin’s Secret Code, was the most important book of my childhood, the book that taught me to love reading, and re-reading, again, and again. I’ve written elsewhere on this blog about rediscovering Alvin’s Secret Code in adulthood and writing a fan letter to its author. I still have Mr. Hicks’s reply, framed, hanging on a wall about ten feet from where I’m typing. That letter is the only piece of correspondence I have ever framed.

Last year came the announcement of a new novel, Alvin Fernald’s Incredible Buried Treasure. That Clifford Hicks had one more Alvin novel in him — at the age of eighty-nine — was a piece of great good fortune for his readers. My children gave me the book as a gift. (Thank you, Rachel and Ben.) The chance to write about a new Alvin book in adulthood was another gift, and a modest way to honor the gift that Clifford Hicks’s work (via the Boro Park Public Library) gave me. Thank you, Mr. Hicks.

comments: 6

Rachel said...

It must have meant a great deal to him to have as dedicated and thoughtful a fan as you, Dad! His family is in my thoughts today.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for leaving that comment, kiddo.

Seth said...

I am sorry to hear about his passing. I loved Alvin's Secret Code as a kid, and when my daughter was born 9 years ago I picked up a copy I saw on sale shortly after that, waiting until she was ready for it. (the only other book I did that for was The Phantom Tollbooth.) We read it together a few months ago, and I was thrilled to see her pick it up and read again to herself last week, asking me about codes. I was just thinking about writing Mr. Hicks a letter thanking him, but I see that I am unfortunately too late. It's good to see others for whom his books made such an impression. The recent book sounds great. will definitely be getting that.

Michael Leddy said...

Seth, thanks for telling your Alvin story here. May you and your daughter read many more books together.

T.J. Hicks said...

I was randomly googling my grandfather tonight and came across your really thoughtful and touching post. I'm not sure if you had heard from anyone else in our family yet or closer to when he passed away but just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed reading about your framed letter and the joy you got out of the Alvin books. Alvin's Secret Code has always been one of my favorites as well. I've forwarded your blog post on to my grandmother as I know she'll enjoy reading it. Thanks for taking the time to write such a nice memorial! Best, T.J. Hicks (www.tjhicks.com)

Michael Leddy said...

T. J., thanks for writing. Yes, I’ve corresponded with Gary, who I’m guessing is likely your uncle. The debt I owe your grandfather is permanent: Alvin’s Secret Code made me love reading, and I am glad that I was able to tell him that (in a letter) in adulthood.