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Chanticleer and the Fox

I have a secret library strategy that I developed after learning mine had discarded The Story of the Root Children.  I check out the books I love, over and over, just to keep them on the shelves.  Children's books really are so varied--some are like a wholesome meal, but many are like candy.  Ours often has the tops of the shelves covered in "easy" readers with trademarked characters.  No, thank you.  Those books seldom have substance, other than offering a bribe to read or a patronizing moral.  But, let's move on from that, shall we?

Chanticleer 1

Here's a classic that is sure to please parent and child.
A bit of adventure, an old story, and wonderful illustrations.
It's a Barbara Cooney book, of course!

Chanticleer 2

I know I go on about Tales from the Green Valley,
but I really love that series, along with Tudor Monastery Farm.
Chanticleer and the Fox really ties it all together.
A wattle fence and thatched roof, for goodness' sake!

Chanticleer 3

The story follows a widow and her daughters, making ends meet on their farm.
Their existence is meager, but they work hard and have enough.
There are chickens, pigs, geese, sheep, bees, cows, and a garden.

Chanticleer 4

I love the plants in this book, like the mullein here in the corner.
You can make candles with it, I have learned.  Count me in!
We have lots of it around here.  It is fun to recognize plants in her illustrations.
Peter's Long Walk is in a similar style.

Chanticleer 5

Ahh, and dear Chanticleer, who is so proud of his plumage and his wives.
He loves to sing for anyone who will hear him (as animals could do in those days).
He has a prophetic dream that a beast tries to grab him and make a meal of him.

Chanticleer 6

His favorite wife tries to dispell his fears, but sure enough,
the fox is lurking in the bracken, looking for a tasty morsel.
He tricks prideful Chanticleer into crowing mightily so he can snatch him up.

Chanticleer 7

Hearing the commotion from the hens, the widow and her girls take off to find Chanticleer.
The animals are all terribly scared and run along, too.

Chanticleer 8

The bees even swarm from their hives, caught up in the grand chase.
A momentary pause for the bees.
I really want bees.  Can I keep them, just like these?

Chanticleer 9

Chanticleer soon tricks the fox, though, urging him to call off the crowds.
"Turn back you proud peasants. . . In spite of you, I shall eat him, in faith, and not be long about it."
With this, Chanticleer flies up to the nearest tree and we all get a little reminder about singing with our eyes closed and avoiding flattery.

So, there is a moral, after all, but it is one which transcends time and has no sacchrin aftertaste.  And there is beautiful artwork and rich language to go along with it.  It is a book to be read together, admittedly, but I think that makes it even better.  It makes me want to go back and actually read the Canterbury Tales.


( 9 trees — Plant a Forest )
Feb. 7th, 2016 07:03 pm (UTC)
Beautiful book! I love the artwork :)

Yes, so many kid books are such junk, and so many are just character based. But of the early reader type things, I really love Cynthia Rylant's stuff, particularly Henry and Mudge and Poppleton. Henry and Mudge are a big series about a boy and his dog, and it;s very sweet. They just do kid stuff, like play in puddles or go swimming. Sweet, subtly humorous language. Poppleton is about a pig and his llama best friend; same type of writing. Rylant also wrote a book about Laura Ingalls Wilder's "missing years" between Plum Creek and Silver Lake, and that book is lovely, too.
Feb. 7th, 2016 08:19 pm (UTC)
Cynthia Rylant is the reason for this blog's name. :-) I didn't know that she had written books like that. I will have to look for them at the library. I will have to track down the other book, too.
Feb. 7th, 2016 09:40 pm (UTC)
I just found out she wrote "When I Was Young in the Mountains"! I can't believe I never made the connection! Yes, she is a lovely writer, and apparently very prolific.
Feb. 7th, 2016 10:35 pm (UTC)
Very prolific! And usually quite good books!
Feb. 7th, 2016 10:34 pm (UTC)
We just read that book this week too! I am returning it to the library today!

I love EVERYTHING by Barbara Cooney. I'm sort of obsessed actually.

ETA: and our library is full of "twaddle" books too. I've learned how to quickly skim the shelves for the good stuff. My favorite revelation was that the REALLY good books are in the picture books section at all. They're shelved in non-fiction -- there's a whole section of all the folklore and fairy tales. That section is almost all fabulous.

Edited at 2016-02-07 10:37 pm (UTC)
Feb. 8th, 2016 11:20 am (UTC)
Oh, me too. I really love Barbara Cooney. Really. I have some photos of other books of hers on here, too. Have you seen The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree and Let's Keep Christmas? Both great illustrations.

Yes, I've taken to the non-fiction section of the children's area, too. The Caldecott section is another good one.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 8th, 2016 11:28 am (UTC)
That captures those books. It's either rude humor or sugary sweet good behavior. Good taste in books begins early, I think.

Mike has created MP3s from records, too! :-)
Feb. 9th, 2016 03:37 am (UTC)
Absolutely *love* the illustrations in this one! You're making me plan another trip to the library tomorrow! - Stacey
( 9 trees — Plant a Forest )

A Blessed Wilderness

It was just like being in heaven, being in there. In those days there was no road. The park was all a blessed wilderness. I have often thought what a wonderful people we would have been if we had wanted to keep it that way.

~Adolph Murie, biologist, on Denali


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