The Chicken-chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington, pictures by Shelley Jackson.
This first-person picture book is about a little girl who chases Big Mama’s chickens even though Big Mama has told her not to. She has one favorite chicken in particular, Miss Hen, who always manages to just escape her hands. Try though she might, she can’t lay a finger on Miss Hen, though she gets temptingly close. Feathers fly, squawking is heard, but no hen. Then Miss Hen seems to disappear and hide very quietly. When she is finally found, she has a surprise of her own.
This book is amazing. The voice of the first person is strong and individual. The charm of the storyline cannot be easily summarized because it is so simple, but the voice lends it a richness that makes it much more than a simple story. Add to that the collage and paint art of Jackson and the book is taken to yet another level. I loved the fact that the different hens are made up of all different types of paper and that action is captured so amazingly in the illustrations. They not only support the story, but add even more action and movement to it.
Add this one to your chicken storytimes, but realize that it is about so much more. It could easily be used in a unit on responsibility or just for a treat for children. Remember to read it aloud, because the language of the book calls for it. Lovely. One of the best of the year.
Reviewed by Fuse #8 in March.