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Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Retold And Illustrated by Marcia Williams Hardcover – January 9, 2007
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 4–8—Chaucer's pilgrims come to life in this energetic retelling of nine tales. The most familiar stories—"The Nun's Priest's Tale," "The Pardoner's Tale," and "The Wife of Bath's Tale"—are here, as are the earthier Miller's and Summoner's tales, and the clever Knight's and Clerk's tales. Quotes in medieval English are featured in dialogue bubbles, while the stories themselves are told in clear modern prose with a poetic bent. For example, in the "The Wife of Bath's Tale," the knight "glimpsed a group of delightful damsels dancing in a glade." As happens throughout the text, children are introduced to elevated vocabulary that captures the original intent of Chaucer's poetry, while elucidating the meaning of the unfamiliar words through the illustrations. Throughout, the juxtaposition of medieval and modern English adds to the comic feel. The watercolor-and-ink cartoon art displayed in a comic-book format is a perfect match for the raucous and sometimes-raw humor, with exaggerated facial expressions and purposely disproportionate body parts. For instance, in "The Miller's Tale," when Alison offers her bottom out the window for Absolon to kiss, it is a rather prominent derriere that meets his waiting lips, a fact that is sure to provoke loud guffaws from students. The essence of each tale is intact, allowing the audience to savor Chaucer's genius, with free use of words such as "fart." Williams's collection is an excellent opportunity to expose children to more accounts than the four in Barbara Cohen's The Canterbury Tales (HarperCollins, 1988). A sure way to hook kids into reading classic literature.—Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
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Williams, the author of several comic-book-style retellings of classic tales, brings Chaucer'sCanterbury Tales to life in a colorful, visually rich format. Each two-page spread, delightfully aquiver with boisterous, good-natured zaniness, uses visual detail to create a frenetic montage of the stories within the story of the traveling pilgrims, who try to best one another in tale telling. The pages are bordered with critters offering humorous peanut-gallery commentary on the stories, while the cartoon personalities within the tales speak in a pidgin Old English that children will delight in deciphering and replicating. Chaucer's ribald tales, which often veer into the juvenile gross-out antics of bawdy adults, are toned down a bit for cheeky young readers (though farts still fly), and the tales-within-a-tale structure of the book nicely matches Williams' multiple-level layouts. Some children may wonder what a Franklin or a Reeve is (curiously, Williams only explains a Summoner), but that won't distract from the fun of the lively, goofy stories and bustling artwork. An entertaining introduction to a storytelling classic. Ian Chipman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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It did not really give the flavor of the stories.....I gave the book to the library and did not use.
Most recent customer reviews
She brings to fruition Chaucer's tales for children while staying true to the tales themselves.Read more