Expressive, beautifully colored realistic paintings depict the indomitable spirit of slaves after harvest when it was corn-shucking time. Smalls (Because You're Lucky, 1992, etc.) evokes a night of celebration and the dreams of a seven-year-old boy, Jess, who fights a larger boy, Nathaniel, for the honor of being the strawbeater--helping the fiddler by beating on the instrument with straw during the dancing. A sleepy Jess is carried home by his mother at the end of the evening, her ""manchild"" who has the will and determination to survive anything--perhaps even slavery. Smalls conveys the festivities without idealizing them--there are patrollers accompanying the slaves to an event that, for all the dancing and eating, is work.