Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cybils Fiction Picture Book Finalist: The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County

The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County
Written by Janice N. Harrington
Illustrated by Shelley Jackson
Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2007

You know, my list of favorite books of 2007 just keeps growing and growing. And yes, it’s 2008. That’s the problem. I’m still reading and rereading some of my very favorite books from 2007 and trying to do reviews on them.

This book begs to be read aloud. Right now I’m reading, using and LOVING Linda Hoyt’s Interactive Read-Aloud lessons with my students. I love using picture books with fourth graders and I love how Linda Hoyt incorporates the books into meaningful, fun, sustaining, read-alouds. Of course Chicken Chasing Queen was just published this year, so it’s not in Linda Hoyt’s recommendations, but oh my goodness, I’m going to be using it very soon.

The main character, a young African-American girl, loves to chase chickens and she is the best Chicken Chaser. In fact, she’s the queen of chicken-chasing. She loves fretting the chickens. Her grandmother has warned her about it, but she loves the mischievousness of chasing the chickens. Then one day she finds the hen has gone. She finally finds her sitting on her eggs. And she has a change of heart. She doesn’t chase the hen anymore because she knows she’s busy being a mamma.

What makes me want to jump and shout about this book:
The language…it’s perfect and poetic and onomatopoeic and all of those good literary devices.
The voice…I could jump into this character and become her, it’s written so well.
The illustrations…Lots of collage and paintings, it fits the style of the story perfectly.
The awards…What awards you might ask? It is a Cybils fiction picture book finalist. It would have been wonderful if ALA adorned it with a sticker, but they didn’t.

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