Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County

Harrington, Janice. 2007. THE CHICKEN-CHASING QUEEN OF LAMAR COUNTY. Ill. by Shelley Jackson. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 9780374312510 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

When a confident young African-American girl attempts to catch “Miss Hen,” feathers begin to fly! Big Mama warns, “If you make those girls crazy, they won’t lay eggs. You like eggs, don’t you?” Despite her “shimmy-shaking” of cornbread trails, “sneaky-hiding” behind the wheelbarrow, and “frog-jumping” attacks, the chicken always gets away. The girl’s chasing comes to an end when she discovers that Miss Hen has hatched a brood of chicks. The youngster vows to be no trouble to the babies. She protects and cares for her feathered family, assuring that they’re fast enough to outrun any chicken-chaser.

Every page contains colloquialisms and lyrical language, making it a fine read-aloud. The collage illustrations perfectly complement the story, energizing the text with paper and fabric feathers, photos of eggs and cornbread, and brightly painted backgrounds. The protagonist’s candid assurance recognized in her expressive facial features and in her relationship with Big Mama adds to the enjoyment. “

Similes, metaphors, alliteration and onomatopoeia are prevalent throughout this story. This title makes a fine companion to a lesson on figurative language.

Collage art is always an appealing illustration for young readers. Identifying detailed bits of fabric, papers and photos within the art is an added bit of fun beyond the story. Encourage readers to interpret this or other text with collage artwork.

More humorous books about chickens:
Auch, Mary Jane and Herm. CHICKERELLA. ISBN 0823420159
Himmelman, John. CHICKENS TO THE RESCUE. ISBN 0805079513
Kelly, Ellen A. MY LIFE AS A CHICKEN! ISBN 0152053069

Books with collage illustrations:
Baker, Jeannie.THE HIDDEN FOREST. ISBN 0688157602
Collier, Bryan. UPTOWN. ISBN 080507399X

By Rebecca McKee

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