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Janice N. Harrington

Born: in Vernon, Alabama
Pen Name: None

Connection to Illinois: Harrington lives in Champaign.

Biography: Janice N. Harrington writes poetry and is the author of award-winning children's books. Growing up in Alabama and Nebraska, both settings figure prominently in her writing. A Cave Canem Fellow, Harrington is also the winner of a 2007 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship for Poetry. Her poetry appears regularly in American literary magazines and has led to awards from the Illinois Arts Council and appearances on ''Poetry Daily'' and ''Verse Daily''. Previously a public librarian and a professional storyteller, she told stories at festivals around the country, including the National Storytelling Festival. Harrington currently teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • Busy-Busy Little Chick Illinois READS Book Selection, Illinois Reading Council, 2014
  • Even the Hollow My Body Made Is Gone A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, BOA Editions; Kate Tufts Discovery Award
  • The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County Top 10 Children's Books, ''Time'' magazine, 2007
  • Going North Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award, New York Public Library, 2005
  • Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turne Best STEM Book, NSTA/CBC, 2020; Starred Review, School Library Journal; Illinois READS Book Selection, Illinois Reading Council, 2023

Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction; Non-Fiction; Poetry

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers; Children


Selected Titles

Busy-busy Little Chick /
ISBN: 0374347468 OCLC: 780398154

Farrar Straus Giroux, New York : 2013.

Mama Nsoso knows her chicks need a warm new house, but each day when they set out to collect sticks and mud she is distracted by good things to eat, while Little Chick stays busy gathering the building materials himself.

Buzzing with questions :
ISBN: 1629795585 OCLC: 1122932056

Questions buzzed endlessly in Charles Henry Turner's mind. Fascinated by bugs and other animals, he wondered: Can spiders learn? How do ants find their way home? Can bugs see color? --from dust jacket.

Catching a storyfish /
ISBN: 1629794295 OCLC: 936534411

Keet knows the only good thing about moving away from her Alabama home is that she'll live near her beloved grandfather. When Keet starts school, it's even worse than she expected, as the kids tease her about her southern accent. Now Keet, who can "talk the whiskers off a catfish," doesn't want to open her mouth. Slowly, though, while fishing with her grandfather, she learns the art of listening. Gradually, she makes her first new friend. But just as she's beginning to settle in, her grandfather has a stroke, and even though he's still nearby, he suddenly feels ever-so-far-away. Keet is determined to reel him back to her by telling him stories; in the process she finds her voice and her grandfather again. This lyrical and deeply emotional novel-in-verse celebrates the power of story and of finding one's individual voice.

Even the hollow my body made is gone :
ISBN: 1929918895 OCLC: 71350581

“Memory and its embodiment in a colloquial, yet highly wrought musical language are what originally drew me to Harrington’s manuscript and what continues to pull me back. We learn the story of Lillian and Webster and their children and grandchildren, a black family living a hardscrabble life in the rural South more than sixty years ago. Set on the cusp of the Civil Rights era, the poems chronicle a way of life that has long since vanished.”—Elizabeth Spires, from the foreword

Going North /
ISBN: 0374326819 OCLC: 50520395

Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar Straus and Giroux, New York : ©2004

A young African American girl and her family leave their home in Alabama and head for Lincoln, Nebraska, where they hope to escape segregation and find a better life.

Hurry, Kate, or You'll Be Late!
ISBN: 0823445100 OCLC:

Margaret Ferguson Books 2023

Kate was late for preschool, but not for the reasons you might expect. It wasn’t because her daddy brushed her hair into poofs, or because they slowed to say hello to neighbors on the way to the bus stop. It wasn’t even because she had to wave to all the trucks, cars, and street cleaners on the road. No, Kate was late because just after they arrived at school, her daddy swooped in to give her a great big goodbye hug that lasted a very long time. Janice N. Harrington is the Ezra Jack Keats Award winning author of Going North. With Hurry Kate or You’ll be Late,she has teamed up with illustrator Tiffany Rose to create a delightful picture book about a vehicle obsessed girl and her very patient father.

Primitive: The Art and Life of Horace H. Pippin
ISBN: 9781942683209 OCLC: 940795165

A biographical reflection on the art and life of Horace H. Pippin the best-known African American artist of his time Primitive is a critique on current perceptions surrounding African American folk art, as well as the absence of key African American history in present-day curricula. Award-winning poet Janice Harrington connects readers with a fascinating, odds-defying artist, all while underscoring the human need for artistic expression.

Roberto walks home
ISBN: 9780670063161 OCLC: 216938218

Viking, New York : 2008.

Roberto is very angry when his older brother Miguel promises to walk him home from school and then forgets.

Rooting for Plants: The Unstoppable Charles S. Parker, Black Botanist and Collector
ISBN: 1662680198 OCLC:

Calkins Creek 2023

In 1882, Black botanist and mycologist Charles S. Parker sprouted up in the lush, green Pacific Northwest. From the beginning, Charles’s passion was plants, and he trudged through forests, climbed mountains, and waded into lakes to find them. When he was drafted to fight in World War I, Charles experienced prejudice against Black soldiers and witnessed the massive ecological devastation that war caused. Those experiences made him even more determined to follow his dreams, whatever the difficulties, and to have a career making things grow, not destroying them. As a botanist and teacher, Charles traveled the United States, searching for new species of plants and fungi. After discovering the source of the disease killing peach and apricot trees, Charles was offered a job at Howard University, the famed historically Black college where he taught the next generation of Black scientists—men and women—to love plants and fungi as much as he did.

The chicken-chasing queen of Lamar County /
ISBN: 0374312516 OCLC: 61881193

A young farm girl tries to catch her favorite chicken, until she learns something about the hen that makes her change her ways.

The Hands of Strangers: Poems from the Nursing Home
ISBN: 9781934414545 OCLC: 697808320

As people live longer, we face the challenges that come with caring for, and living as, an aging population. This collection focuses on the sad, funny, mundane reality of life in a nursing home. In her own words, Janice N. Harrington worked her way through college as a nurses' aide and wrote The Hands of Strangers because she "cannot forget the 'girls' I worked with or the 'residents' under my care. I haven't forgotten what I saw, heard, felt, or learned."