It is nearly impossible to visit Sam Houston State University without spotting the chickens that cross the road from the Sam Houston Memorial Museum grounds to wander through campus. Have you ever wondered why the chickens cross the road?
“The Story of the Sam Houston Chickens,” a book written by former members of SHSU Priority One Public Relations, a student-run Public Relations firm, is hitting shelves April 27.
“Well it’s kind of an old story, but with a twist,” co-author Tricia Sims said. “Why did the chicken cross the road? Our answer is to go to Sam Houston State University! Our chickens in the story explore campus.”
The idea was hatched when Bright Sky publisher Lucy Chambers, attending SHSU for a Q&A hosted by Priority One, mentioned to the Priority One advisor and professor Peter Roussel what an interesting story the chickens would make.
“I remember Roussel and [Chambers] making small talk about the chickens and how charming they were,” Sims said. “She then said someone should write a book about the chickens. She mentioned that she helped publish a book about cats at The Alamo and that it would be such a cute idea for someone to write about the Sam Houston State University chickens.”
Sims, along with co-authors April Lawson-Isbell andChandler Smith, all members of the Spring 2017 Priority One team, drafted a copy of the book together and presented it to the rest of the class for their approval.
“We did not get the reaction we had hoped for,” Sims said. “They didn’t really like it. We really had to revamp it after that. We took what the team said, and what we thought we could change and made it so much better.”
After several months of hard work and significantly improving the story line, the authors finally started to see their vision come to life when they discovered illustrator Victoria Gillis who hand-painted each of the book’s pages with watercolors.
“We knew it was going to happen after seeing her illustrations,” Sims said. “Everything kind of matched up: our vision, the drawings and the text.”
Sam Houston Memorial Museum Exhibit Curator Casey Roon has also played a big part in the production of the book, handling the funding, copywriting and getting the museum involved.
A book signing will take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on May 3, hosted by the current Priority One team, at the Bear Bend Cabin on the museum grounds. The book will be for sale at the event for a temporarily reduced price of $19.95, and the story’s creators will be in attendance to sign the books and several other fun activities will take place as well.
The book will then be for sale in the Sam Houston Memorial Museum, located at 1836 Sam Houston Avenue, for $24.95 in the museum store.
The proceeds from the book will go towards two different SHSU student scholarships.
“One scholarship [will be] for a Mass Communications student and one for an art student,” Sims said. “I believe that was Victoria’s idea originally and we all got behind it.”
Roussel has seen the idea turn into a reality over the last three semesters. The authors named one of the chicks in the book Petey, after Roussel.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” Roussel said. “I think it is a terrific opportunity, first for the authors, and the students who will read it, and the museum and the university. It’s a win-win for all.”
To preorder “The Story of the Sam Houston Chickens,” contact the museum at (936) 294-1832