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

written by Carl Sandburg, illustrated by David Small

How the Huckabuck family raised popcorn in Nebraska, quit the farm snd traveled the Midwest, and finally came back.

Taken in its entirety from Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories, this delightful tale introduces a resilient Nebraska family. 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. Three years later, she opens another 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 energy; each panoramic double-page spread is full of detail and the people look extraordinarily human in figure and expression. Although the story was first published in 1923, the artist sets his sunny drawings during the Depression, as indicated by a 1935 wall calendar.