The Huckabuck Family: And How They Raised Popcorn in Nebraska and Quit and Came Back

by Carl Sandburg and David Small

On the book jacket Small launches his version of Sandburg’s literary tall tale... read more

On the book jacket Small launches his version of Sandburg’s literary tall tale from The Rootabaga Stories by enclosing the title within a giant ear of corn. Papa Papa and Mama Mama Huckabuck are seen gamely standing in their Nebraska popcorn field with pony-tailed young Pony Pony Huckabuck and her hobby horse. Small captures the Huckabuck’s outrageous optimism, and he also develops Huckabuck livestock as a visual Depression era Greek chorus. He imagines the origin of the fire that popped the Huckabuck’s entire popcorn harvest and sent these cheerful, un-depressed folks forth into the Depression era - to Oskaloosa, Iowa, Paducah, Kentucky, Defiance, Ohio, Peoria, Illinois, Indianapolis, Indiana, and Walla Walla, Washington. Small shifts the overall emotional mood only as muscle-bound Papa Papa becomes a proud watchman in an Elgin, Illinois, watch factory where he must watch the watches and where a police man watches Pony Pony through the window as she watches Papa Papa. Sandburg’s imaginative language, effective alliteration, and wry social commentary are perfectly matched by Small’s shifting perspectives, droll characterizations and sunny palette. It’s risky to illustrate such rich language, but Small’s humorous vision successfully complements and also extends Sandburg’s classic text. (Ages 4-9)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2000

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