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Chaucer's Canterbury Tales


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About the Author

Marcia Williams has illustrated and retold many literary classics for children with her distinctive cartoon-strip style. Among her highly acclaimed titles are Greek Myths (9781406303476), Mr William Shakespeare's Plays (9780744569469), God and His Creations: Tales from the Old Testament (9781844285280) and Charles Dickens and Friends (9780744598384). Marcia lives in London.


Marcia Williams adds to her whimsically formatted explorations of Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare with Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Her signature style seems ideally suited to the interconnectedness of Chaucer's tales: cartoon-panel artwork highlights the events in the tales and a running narrative along the bottom margin shows the pilgrims in real time. For instance, the miller's portrait appears in the upper-left corner of his tale's opening spread, so that when the Reeve completes his tale (in which the miller is outwitted), readers can see the miller tossing his wine at the reeve at the dinner table. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"Williams is one of our very best retellers of the classics." The Independent on Sunday"

Gr 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 Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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