PPBF Looks at The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County

Perfect Picture Book Fridays Looks at The Chicken-Chasing Queen by Janice N. Harrington.

Maybe I’m drawn to books that take me into the heart of farm country because I grew up next door to relatives that had a small farm. (By small, I mean for their own needs and ours.) My aunt and uncle planted one row of sky-tickling corn, a row of plump peas ready to pop from their sun-warmed pods, a row of pungent-tasting peanuts that tasted less than awful until they were roasted, a raspberry patch with plenty of pokey thorns to protect the juicy berries, and a squawking, clucking coop of hens that lay enough eggs to retire on.

Why I like this book – When I found the picture book, The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington, I knew I held a book I had to add to my shelf. And no, my reason for purchasing this uplifting book wasn’t entirely based on my love of farmland and chickens. Ms. Harrington has a gift for word choices that surprised and delighted me.

If a writer hopes to captivate the reader, it’s critical he or she chooses the perfect word or words to describe something. It’s not enough to say your character’s teeth are white as snow. Similes work best when they relate to the setting the story takes place in. The following, partial sentence from today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection illustrates this well.

Soon as I wake up, wash away the dreaming, and brush my teeth whiter than a biscuit…

Whiter than a biscuit. I can’t think of a better comparison. And the book continues to surprise with countless, perfect similes, metaphors, and thoughtful verbs throughout.

In addition to a fast-paced, fun story, the illustrations by Shelley Jackson further enhance the reading enjoyment. Ms. Jackson’s collages combining paintings with cut and torn paper, fabric and lace lend a country charm to this kid-friendly book.

The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County

Written by – Janice N. Harrington

Published by- Melanie Kroupa Books – Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007

*Suitable for – 4-8

*Topics/Theme – Sometimes, an unexpected outcome can be just as good as getting what you want.

*Opening –  I’m the Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County. Big Mama says, “Don’t you chase those chickens. If you make those girls crazy, they won’t lay eggs. You like eggs, don’t you?’

Big Mama says, “Don’t you chase those chickens. If you make those girls crazy, they won’t lay eggs. You like eggs, don’t you?’

But I don’t care. Soon as I wake up, wash away the dreaming, and brush my teeth whiter than a biscuit, I always do three things: eat breakfast, tell stories to Big Mama, and–when Big Mama isn’t looking–

Synopsis from Amazon – Meet one smart chicken chaser. She can catch any chicken on her grandmother’s farm except one – the elusive Miss Hen. In a hilarious battle of wits, the spirited narrator regales readers with her campaign to catch Miss Hen, but this chicken is “fast as a mosquito buzzing and quick as a fleabite.” Our chicken chaser has her mind set on winning until she discovers that sometimes it’s just as satisfying not to catch chickens as it is to catch them.

A fresh voice full of sass and inventive, bold collage illustrations full of surprises creates a childlike escapade brimming with funny high jinks that lead the reader on a merry, memorable chase.

The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County is a 2008 Bank Street – Best Children’s Book of the Year.

Janice N. Harrington’s website.

Shelley Jackson – illustrator

To find other perfect picture books please visit Susanna Hill’s Blog.

Art Project – After reading this book, have children collect magazines and catalog their parents are fine with them cutting up along with feathers, buttons, dried pasta, fabric scraps, crayons, cardboard, colored paper and glue sticks. When all their supplies are gathered, they can cut and paste a collage of their own, using today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday choice, The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County, as their inspiration.chicken-chasing-queen-story


  1. Beth Anderson

    Gotta love chicken stories! And what wonderful voice! Thanks for the great review!

  2. Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

    You’re welcome, Beth! From cover to cover, the author hand-picked her words for this fast-paced picture book. I hope when you read it, you enjoy it as much as I do.

  3. Patricia Tilton

    This sounds like a very humorous book with spunky girl and a chicken. I do love the beautiful language you shared. That adds more to the intrigue. Am always looking for good book for grandchildren. Thanks!

  4. Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

    This book was an instant love for me. The word choices couldn’t have been chosen any better. Cover to cover, it’s perfection! I hope you love it, too!

  5. Cathy Ballou Mealey

    My daughter’s been begging for a chicken coop – alas – zoning! She’d love this PPBF.

    • Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

      Honestly, if it weren’t for zoning restrictions in my neighborhood, too, I would be knocking together a fine chicken coop, painting it red, and adopting an armload of fluffy chickens.

  6. Gabi Snyder

    The title alone would make me pick this book up! And the lines you shared are fabulous — what a fun and spunky voice. I will check this out; thanks for sharing!

    • Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

      Thanks for visiting my blog, Gabi! Yes, the title caught my eye straight off, as did the illustrations. The author uses a basketful of great picture book tools to tell this story. There’s so much to love about it.

  7. viviankirkfield

    Leslie…fantastic choice!! Yes to great wordsmithing! Yes to humor! Yes to what looks like a book I need to read. Thanks for sharing it….and I love your theme..did you word it that way? I need to learn how to do that…simple and to the point…just a few words tell us exactly the heart of the story. 😉

  8. Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

    Thanks, Vivian, I know you’re going to love this book when you read it. So much of what we learned about writing a winning picture book is here. I’m glad you liked the way I worded the theme. I’m not sure which poses the greatest challenge: summing up the story or simplifying the theme. I knew I needed to add this gem to my picture book collection after reading the opening page. Instantly, I knew I was in the capable hands of a good storyteller. And speaking of good storytellers… I’m looking forward to March 2017 when your picture book, Sweet Dreams, Sarah, comes out!

  9. Joanna

    Just from the snippets you have shared I feel immersed in the scene and location!

  10. Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

    And to think that I only shared snippets. The book is filled from cover to cover with more such gems. I hope you’ll read this book and enjoy it as much as I do.

  11. Sue Heavenrich

    This looks like plain old fun. Who can resist chickens? Gonna peck through the library catalog for this one.

  12. Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer

    Dear Sue, Yes, who can resist chickens? And not only is the text wonderful but so are the amazing collages that illustrate this book. I would say this book is a visual feast and a joy to read.