Sunday, September 04, 2011


Chanticleer and the Fox, Barbara Cooney (illustrator), HarperCollins, 1958, 33 pp


This picture book won the Caldecott Medal in 1959. The story is adapted from Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tale, "The Nun's Priest's Tale." There are no nuns or priests in this version.

Chanticleer is the sole rooster belonging to a widow and her two children. The fox tricks the rooster and carries him off. Chanticleer works out a trick of his own and gets free.

The illustrations are indeed excellent, especially the colors and the use of orange as an accent against gold and black. But at the end the rooster, the fox and the widow recite the moral of the story: don't trust flattery. We children don't like our lessons told in such a flat boring tone but we do like to outsmart those who would harm us.

(Chanticleer and the Fox is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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