It's 1936 Flint, Michigan. Times may be hard, and 10-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy, but Bud's got a few things going for him: 1. He has his own suitcase full of special things; 2. He's the author of ''Bud Caldwell's Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself''; 3. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: posters of Herman E. Calloway and his band of renown, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression. Bud is sure those posters will lead him to his father. Once he decides to hit the road, nothing can stop him, not hunger, not fear, not would-be vampires, not even Herman E. Calloway himself.