A tall country tale involving dentures, beans, and an amazing hambone.
Life on a farm can be hard. One year, the soil is so unforgiving that all the family can grow is beans. Dad makes it work by packing them in sacks and taking them far away to sell. Still, all he can buy with the money he earns is a big hambone, just what’s needed to flavor the family’s beans for dinner. Grandpa loves this dinner so much he declares an enthusiastic “HAL-LA-LOO-YA!” Meanwhile, the narrator’s “economical” mom saves the hambone for next week’s dinner. News spreads to the neighbors, who borrow this splendid hambone. Now the hambone is away from the family for two or three days at a time, but Grandpa “would always manage to wrangle an invitation to dinner.” One day, Mrs. McIvey drops by to borrow the hambone to make a nice supper after her daughter’s wedding; of course she invites Grandpa. He rushes to the well to wash his face and sneezes, sending his dentures down into the darkness. Quick-thinking brother Sam ties the hambone to a fishing line and lowers it, to be clamped on tight by the dentures, which “had grown…used to eating beans flavored with that hambone.” Alas, the line snaps, but all is not lost—now the neighbors come by for some of that ham-flavored well water. Storyteller Hayes spins his yarn with aplomb, punctuating it with the titular exclamation. Castro L.’s illustrations suggest Norman Rockwell, depicting a largely white rural Southwest community.
Tongue-in-cheek fun. (Picture book. 7-10)