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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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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