Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County

The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County

Written by: Janice N. Harrington
Illustrated by: Shelley Jackson

Elementary Grades

"In this delightful story about life on a farm, an African-American youngster is determined to become the best chicken chaser ever, although Big Mama repeatedly asks her to leave the animals alone. Despite the girl's best efforts, her favorite chicken, Miss Hen, always manages to escape. As the summer days wear on, she finally finds Miss Hen's hiding spot in the tall green grass. She is sitting on a nest with "fuzzy chicks cuddling tight beneath her wing," and although it would be easy to grab her, the child makes a more mature decision and resists the temptation. Harrington uses exceptionally colorful and descriptive language throughout the tale. Miss Hen has feathers as "shiny as a rained-on roof" and is as "plump as a Sunday purse." Her calls sound "like pennies falling on a dinner plate." Jackson's intriguing collages, combining printed cloth with painterly brushstrokes, will have readers lingering over the pages. The birds' feathers are fashioned out of different materials, including fabric, marker pen on loose-leaf paper, newsprint, and lace. Shifting perspectives capture the thrill of the chase as well as the calm of quieter moments. The youngster's face clearly expresses determination, understanding, and pride. This book makes a marvelously delicious read-aloud, accompanied by participatory "prucks" and "squawks" from the audience."

School Library Journal Review

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