From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2—In this delightful story about life on a farm, an African-American youngster is determined to become the best chicken chaser ever, although Big Mama repeatedly asks her to leave the animals alone. Despite the girl's best efforts, her favorite chicken, Miss Hen, always manages to escape. As the summer days wear on, she finally finds Miss Hen's hiding spot in the tall green grass. She is sitting on a nest with "fuzzy chicks cuddling tight beneath her wing," and although it would be easy to grab her, the child makes a more mature decision and resists the temptation. Harrington uses exceptionally colorful and descriptive language throughout the tale. Miss Hen has feathers as "shiny as a rained-on roof" and is as "plump as a Sunday purse." Her calls sound "like pennies falling on a dinner plate." Jackson's intriguing collages, combining printed cloth with painterly brushstrokes, will have readers lingering over the pages. The birds' feathers are fashioned out of different materials, including fabric, marker pen on loose-leaf paper, newsprint, and lace. Shifting perspectives capture the thrill of the chase as well as the calm of quieter moments. The youngster's face clearly expresses determination, understanding, and pride. This book makes a marvelously delicious read-aloud, accompanied by participatory "prucks" and "squawks" from the audience.—Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA
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*Starred Review* Harrington, whose Going North
(2004) was named a Booklist
Top of the List--Picture Book, offers another winning book. "I'm the Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County," announces a young African American girl. Gray-haired Big Mama warns her to leave the birds alone, but the girl can't restrain herself: the chase is too much fun, and the elusive Miss Hen is her ultimate prize. When the girl finally manages to sneak up on Miss Hen in the grass, she discovers her prize surrounded by chicks, and the girl instantly reforms: "I know you're a mama now . . . . I won't trouble your babies." Both words and pictures elevate a simple story about a girl's sly barnyard game into a rollicking, well-told delight. The words are both colloquial and poetic, and Harrington perfectly balances the tense strategizing and stalking ("I sneaky-hide behind Big Mama's wheelbarrow and make myself small, small, small") as well as the gentle caring that follows. Jackson's exceptional collages of cut paper, fabric, and paint magnify both the feather-flying action and the characters' emotions, including the loving bond between the girl and Big Mama. Kids will easily feel the irresistible allure of a subversive game as well as the deep bond with an animal friend. A first-rate read-aloud. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved