" Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah "
The fourth snatch of song Mr. Halloway comes up with is now best known as the second part of the folk song “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” which turned up in a collection of Princeton University songs in 1894. The Dinah portion comes from “Old Joe, or Somebody in the House with Dinah,” which was published in London in the 1830s or 1840s. Dinah was a generic name for an African slave woman.
" Sambo-style "
The Story of Little Black Sambo was a phenomenally successful children’s book through the first half of the 20th century. Written by Helen Bannerman, a Scot who lived in Madras, India for 30 years, the book was published in London in 1899. The story concerns a little Indian boy who outwits a group of hungry tigers until they melt into delicious butter. At left is the frontispiece from an early American edition of the book. In chapter 54 of Something Wicked
, Jim, Will, and Mr. Halloway “jigged Sambo-style” in a way that recalls the celebrations at the end of that book.
“Sambo” eventually was used by some as a racial slur. The story was criticized on that basis, and altered and adapted many times in an attempt to make it less controversial. In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury mentions Little Black Sambo as an example of books that people burn because they find them offensive.
" the first year of Creation . . . the Garden "
For the delicious feeling of life and victory the three heroes feel after the defeat of the carnival, the narrator evokes the joy and innocence of the Garden of Eden before the Fall.
This version of "Creation" depicts the Garden of Eden in an 18th century copperplate engraving by Johann Elias Ridinger.
" elephant boneyards "
A longtime legend has it that when elephants sense they are about to die, they leave the herd and trek alone to special places where elephants go to die. Accumulations of elephant bones have been found, but no one has actually followed a dying elephant to such a place; these boneyards might have been the result of a mass die-off of a herd due to disease, starvation, or poisonous gases from a volcanic vent (what are known in Swahili as mazukus).