Need help with a sweater pattern!

Please help! I’ve been doing pretty well with this sweater I’m knitting for my daughter, but now I’m stuck.

Here’s the pattern I’m doing:

The problem I’m having is with the hood. First, I’m assuming that I pick up the stitches (ie add the hood to) the back piece – is this correct? Next, if I pick up 52 stitches and leave 14 free, does this mean I pick up 26, leave 14 free and then pick up 26? This is what I have done, and then I’ve done the next few rows and I end up with a strange-looking gap in the middle of the neck, like a hole at the bottom of the hood. What am I doing wrong?

Thanks for any help you can give me!