Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County, by Janice N. Harrington

Title:  The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County
Author:  Janice N. Harrington
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux
Pages: 40
Genre:  Realistic Fiction
Age Level:  K-4

Plot Summary: 
The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County tell the story of Janice Harrington's life growing up in Alabama.  There was nothing she loved to do more than chase the chickens her grandmother kept.  Despite her grandmother telling her not to tease the animals, every day she would race outside, and run and chase until she was able to get every chicken in the yard.  Every chicken, that is, except for Miss Hen.  The girl made it her life's ambition to catch that chicken.  One day, she sees her chance-Miss Hen is just sitting in the tall grass, almost asking to be caught.  When the girl goes in for the catch, however, she discovers that Miss Hen has a reason for standing still-a new family.  The girl makes it her new life's work to help Miss Hen take care of her chicks, and to teach them to run so fast they will never be caught by any chicken chaser!

This book is charming!  The author has been a teacher, librarian, and professional storyteller, all of which contribute to her ability to paint a picture with words.  This book is full descriptive language, with rich vocabulary and sayings that show the true creative and flexible nature of language.  The characters are engaging-I wanted a Big Mama when I read this book for the first time!  The illustrations are a good match for the writing style.  Using a collage technique, the illustrator blends elements and mediums to create pictures that have texture and depth.  The art makes the characters come alive. The story has a good message, about respecting all living things, that most children can relate to. 

This book makes a great read aloud, what with all the chicken sounds that the kids can make as the teacher reads.  It is also good for teaching figurative language forms, such as simile and metaphor.  It could also be used for teaching writing, especially the trait of word choice and voice if you are using a 6 Traits writing model.  Because the story is told from the first person, you could do a mini-lesson on point of view as well.  There are lots of cross-curricular connections that can be made-young children love learning about chicks, and there are plenty of chicken themed books and activities you could use to add depth to a unit on chickens.  Below are some teacher resources I've found for this book.  Have fun-and don't tease the chickens!

Leslie Chasing Queen of Lamar County

Reading to

Keister Elementary School Teacher Resources

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