THE CHICKEN-CHASING QUEEN OF LAMAR COUNTY

Never has the expression, “feathers will fly” been as aptly illustrated as in this vivacious story of an African-American farm girl who loves nothing more than chasing chickens. Every morning, the self-appointed queen tells tales to gray-haired Big Mama and heads outside to pursue her prey. The story details the joy—and strategy—of the chase in playfully poetic prose: “Then I sneaky-hide behind Big Mama’s wheelbarrow and make myself small, small, small.” The girl’s favorite victim, the elusive Miss Hen, gets a break when her tormentor discovers she’s now a nesting mother with fuzzy chicks, a heartwarming development that reforms the once-insatiable chicken-chaser . . . at least temporarily. Harrington’s soothingly rhythmic first-person storytelling is just right for reading aloud. Jackson’s delightful collages, patched with photos of colorful fabric and other everyday objects, capture the kinetic frenzy of chickens from a variety of unusual perspectives. Cut-out letters and spelling variations on “squawk” add occasional Vladimir Radunsky–style flair, though there’s nothing cartoonish about the realistic, wonderfully expressive faces of Big Mama and her charge. Contented clucks all around. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2007

ISBN: 0-374-31251-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2007

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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