Amy's Reviews > Chancer's Canterbury Tales

Chancer's Canterbury Tales by Marcia Williams
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Jun 09, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 2009, j-comics
Read in June, 2009

Williams retells Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in an abbreviated, kid-friendly version. The book is comprised of 9 tales, each one told by a member of a band of merry travelers on their way to Canterbury. The idea is that the telling of tales will help to pass the time, and as an added bonus, the storyteller who presents the best tale will win a dinner compliments of the other travelers. In the end, the group can't decide who had the best tale so nobody really wins - but their trip passed in the blink of an eye.

I haven't read the "real" version of Canterbury Tales, so I'm not sure if this an accurate interpretation. I'll tell you what, though - this is the closest I'll ever get to reading the real thing. Ye Olde English is like a completely different language, and you can bet your boots that I'm not going to try to muddle through it. Furthermore, from reading Williams' version, I didn't think the stories were even that great. Why would you sit there trying to understand Ye Olde English if the payoff isn't even that great? I'm so glad I didn't have to read this in high school, and I'd like to have words with teachers who have it in their curriculum.

But I digress. Williams' version is totally accessible, and even if the stories aren't great, the artwork is delightful. It reminded me of a weird hybrid of Martin Hanford (of Where's Waldo fame) and Quentin Blake. There was a lot of detail on each page, and that made the stories a lot more engaging.

Even though it's made to be kid-friendly, I'm not sure how many kids will actually pick this one up. Sure, there are nice illustrations and fart jokes aplenty (I wasn't expecting the flatulence humor, I must say), which might make a different once kids get into the book. But kids might be discouraged when they see the title of this boring Ye Olde English novel. Williams might have done better to give her version a snappier title, with a subtitle that said "Based on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales."

Overall - I think that reading Williams' version is more enjoyable and less headache-inducing that reading the real thing, but I don't see this one grabbing a ton of kids.
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