More Rootabaga Stories
by Carl Sandburg
When first published in 1923, the sequel to Rootabaga Stories
was titled Rootabaga Pigeons
. When re-printed in 1990, the title
was changed to Rootabaga Stories, Part Two
. And now, just to multiply confusion, they have changed the title again, to More
The pigeons title may be a bit obscure. I think it was a reference to Sandburgs three young daughters, who were the first children to
hear these magical, all-American stories. The dedication is To Three Illinois Pigeons, and several of the stories portray hobo-like men
(Sandburgs favorite image for himself) who either have an affectionate bond with pigeons, or whose daughters have actually been turned into
pigeons. Nearly all of the stories are tales-within-a-tale, told to young girls by hobo-type characters such as Hatrack the Horse (who isnt
a horse) and the Potato Face Blind Man (who may not actually be blind). And most of the stories take place in a magical country somewhere
near Illinois, and whimsically based on that state.
They are odd little stories, too. Just when you think youre reading complete nonsense, you catch a glimmer of something going on, hidden
deep beneath the surface. Quirky word choices, eccentric turns of phrase, ritualistic repetions, and a charming sense of wonder mix with
tints of romance, sadness, gentle teasing, and slapstick comedy. Wacky characters with even wackier names (such as Dippy the Wisp and Slip
Me Liz) explore strange realms where whole villages blow away in the wind, and air cars drive over an air bridge, and wishes come true, and
the rats on the moon put their mittens in the ice-box for the winter. Three of the stories claim to explain how the letter X got into the
alphabet. Only one of the stories threatens to have a moral, but it may not actually carry out the threat. And just think, all these things
were created as bedtime stories for 3 little Illinois girls. Lucky girls!
Yes, this is the same Carl Sandburg whose Collected Poems and biography of Abraham Lincoln each won a Pulitzer Prize. I dont think
the Rootabaga stories won any prizes, but when I finished reading this second book of them I had to call my mother and read a couple of the
stories to her. My mother usually puts up with that patiently, but yesterday as I read from More Rootabaga Stories, I could hear her
moaning with pleasure on the other end of the line. When I was done reading, my mother said, Those words were like music, like poetry, like
poetry in motion! I could literally see the pictures taking shape... She cant wait for me to call her again and read some more.
Recommended Age: 10+ (to read) or 7½ + (to have read to you)
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