Cover image for The Huckabuck family and how they raised popcorn in Nebraska and quit and came back
The Huckabuck family and how they raised popcorn in Nebraska and quit and came back
Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar Strauss Giroux, [1999]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 30 cm
After the popcorn the Huckabucks had raised explodes in a fire and Pony Pony Huckabuck finds a silver buckle inside a squash, the family decides it is time for a change.
General Note:
"The text was originally published in 1923 by Harcourt, Brace & Company in the book Rootabaga stories by Carl Sandburg."
Reading Level:
AD 850 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.4 0.5 34793.

Reading Counts RC K-2 4.2 2 Quiz: 22708 Guided reading level: N.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
X PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
X PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



A picture-book version of the classic Rootabaga story.

Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories have amused generations of children with their distinctly American fairy-tale flavor. In The Huckabuck family, which was from his first collection, Jonas Jonas, Mama Mama, and Pony Pony Huckabuck must pull up stakes when a fire starts and their enormous popcorn harvest pops them out of house and farm. After traveling to towns all over the country, where Jonas Jonas tries out very different occupations, the family finally receives a portent that it's time to go home. This time they won't be farming popcorn, however. David Small's golden rendition of this strange and funny tale, with its delicious textual repetition, will be a happy introduction to Sandburg for many children.

Author Notes

The son of Swedish immigrants, Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Illinois. At age 13 he left school to roam the Midwest; he remained on the road for six years, working as a day laborer. Sandburg served in the Spanish-American War and then, from 1898 to 1902, attended Lombard College in Galesburg. After college, he went to Milwaukee, where he worked as a journalist; he also married Lillian Steichen there in 1908. During World War I, he served as a foreign correspondent in Stockholm; after the war he returned to Chicago and continued to write about America, especially the common people. Sandburg's first poems to gain wide recognition appeared in Poetry magazine in 1914. Two years later he published his Chicago Poems (1916), and Cornhuskers appeared in 1918. Meanwhile, Sandburg set out to become an authority on Abraham Lincoln (see Vol. 3). His exhaustive biography of the president, which took many years to complete, appeared as Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years (2 vols., 1926) and Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (4 vols., 1939), which won a Pulitzer Prize. Sandburg's poetry is untraditional in form. Drawing on Whitman as well as the imagists, its rhymeless and unmetered cadences reflect Midwestern speech, and its diction ranges from strong rhetoric to easygoing slang. Although he often wrote about the uncouth, the muscular, and the primitive, there was a pity and loving kindness that was a primary motive for his poetry. At Sandburg's death, Mark Van Doren, Archibald MacLeish, and President Lyndon Johnson delivered eulogies. In his tribute, President Johnson said that "Carl Sandburg was more than the voice of America, more than the poet of its strength and genius. He was America. . . . He gave us the truest and most enduring vision of our own greatness." The N.Y. Times described Sandburg as "poet, newspaper man, historian, wandering minstrel, collector of folk songs, spinner of tales for children, [whose] place in American letters is not easily categorized. But it is a niche that he has made uniquely his own." Sandburg was the labor laureate of the United States. Sandburg received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1951 for his Complete Poems (1950). Among his many other awards were the gold medal for history and biography (1952) from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the Poetry Society of America's gold medal (1953) for distinguished achievement; and the Boston Arts Festival Award (1955) in recognition of "continuous meritorious contribution to the art of American poetry." In 1959 he traveled under the auspices of the Department of State to the U.S. Trade Fair in Moscow, and to Stockholm, Paris, and London. In 1960 he received a citation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a great living American for the "significant and lasting contribution which he has made to American literature." (Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-8. Taken in its entirety from Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories, this delightful tale introduces the resilient Huckabuck family: Nebraska farmer Jonas Jonas Huckabuck, his wife Mama Mama Huckabuck, and daughter Pony Pony Huckabuck. Small's detailed watercolors portray the proud family through their ups, downs, and eventual return to the farm. The story was published in 1923, but Small sets his visual interpretation during the Depression, as indicated by a 1935 wall calendar. As the family moves from town to town and job to job, Papa Huckabuck continues to smile, putting his best face on things. The farm animals are even more expressive than the Huckabucks, sometimes alarmed, occasionally disgruntled, and often indignant. Most libraries have the Rootabaga Stories, but this pleasing version will attract a new audience and draw readers to the original work. --Linda Perkins

Publisher's Weekly Review

According to PW, "The homespun, old-fashioned charm of Small's busy pictures makes the most of this winning narrative, first published in 1923 as one of Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories." Ages 5-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

K-Gr 4-The proud Huckabucks are forced to leave their farm and try their hands at other ways of life before making their way back to the land. The eye-popping ink-and-watercolor artwork is as bright as a summer morning and as expansive as a Nebraska cornfield. (Aug.) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 4-Finally, another of Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories has been made into a picture book-and a fine one. Jonas Jonas Huckabuck, his wife Mama Mama Huckabuck, and their daughter Pony Pony Huckabuck raise popcorn. One day, the child finds a Chinese silver slipper buckle inside a squash. Her parents say it's a sign that their luck will change. Sure enough, that night a fire starts in the barn and the popcorn starts to pop, until the entire farm is buried in it. The family leaves, traveling throughout the Midwest. In different towns, Pony Pony proudly watches as her father drives a coal car, digs ditches, or works as a watch-factory watchman. On Thanksgiving, three years later, she opens a squash, and there's the mate to the silver buckle. It's another sign, and so the family returns to the farm, ready to grow anything but popcorn. Small's watercolors burst with hue; each panoramic double-page spread is full of detail and the people look extraordinarily human in figure and expression. With exuberant energy, the artist illustrates the reverence Sandburg held for the Midwest-its farming, industry, and people. He communicated it through his rhythmic text that is delicious on the tongue-that plays, details, catalogs, and repeats until the story feels like a spell. His classic Depression-era migrant-worker fairy tale should spring to new life with this new version.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.