Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Rootabaga Stories is a collection of fanciful tales that Carl Sandburg originally told as bedtime stories for his three daughters. Some of his interests as a poet, folksinger, and social activist find their way into the stories, but in lighthearted ways. The stories are primarily intended as whimsical entertainment, not as social commentary or moral inspiration.

The opening story sets the tone for the book. In “How They Broke Away to Go to the Rootabaga Country,” Gimme the Ax and his two children, Please Gimme and Ax Me No Questions, sell almost everything, “pigs, pastures, pepper pickers, pitchforks,” and buy a “long slick yellow leather slab ticket with a blue spanch across it” to take them to the Village of Liver-and-Onions, the biggest city in the Rootabaga Country. The characters’ comic names and imaginative adventure told in humorous and repetitive language are typical of Rootabaga Stories.

The stories are grouped in clusters in which a single character or plot thread connects the stories. In the first of “Three Stories about the Gold Buckskin Whincher,” for example, Blixie Bimber finds luck in the form of a gold buckskin whincher, which brings her romance. (A whincher is an imaginary object whose name is more important for its sound that for its meaning.) In the other stories in the cluster, the whincher changes the luck of two other characters: Jason Squiff, who wears a popcorn hat, mittens, and shoes; and Rags Habakuk, who gains the...

(The entire section is 615 words.)

Rootabaga Stories Bibliography

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Allen, Gay Wilson. Carl Sandburg. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1972.

Callahan, North. Carl Sandburg: His Life and Works. University Park: State University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987.

Crowder, Richard. Carl Sandburg. New York: Twayne, 1964.

Durnell, Hazel. The America of Carl Sandburg. Washington, D.C.: University Press of Washington, D.C., 1965.

Hallwas, John E., and Dennis J. Reader, eds. The Vision of This Land: Studies of Vachel Lindsay, Edgar Lee Masters, and Carl Sandburg. Macomb: Western Illinois University Press, 1976.

Niven, Penelope. Carl Sandburg. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1991.

Yannella, Philip. The Other Carl Sandburg. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1996.