Summer Books: Re-Producing Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale and a “Classics Comics” DIY

Summer Books Reproducing Chaucer's Nun's Priest's Tale and a Classic Comics DIY

Medieval Bad Girls (and Chickens) Week continues in our Summer Reading Series….
Today, the “chickens” come into play…I read the kids a small bit of Chaucer’s Middle English as well as Peter Ackroyd’s prose treatment of Chaucer’s “Nun’s Priest’s Tale” from his Canterbury Tales: A Retelling. [We borrowed this one from the Toronto Public Library as an ebook!  – Oh, and by the way, as I read, I replaced any “foul” language with the word “love”].  The story is a beast fable told in a mock-heroic style. Chanticleer, the prize rooster of a poor widow, has had a bad dream in which he is chased by something resembling a fox, and he worries that his life is in danger. Hen Pertelote, the fairest of his seven wives, tells him to stop being a coward, to discount his dreams (which she claims are caused by tummy troubles), and instead, to eat something that would have the effect of a laxative. Not long after, a fox traps Chanticleer by stroking his ego, asking the cock to stretch his neck so that he could better hear his lovely “voice.”  The fox runs off with Chanticleer in his mouth. Almost immediately, the barnyard becomes the scene of an epic chase, as all of the animals (including the bees), the widow and her daughters pursue the beloved cock and the enemy fox. Chanticleer encourages the fox to open his mouth and yell insults and taunts at his pursuers. He does, and the cock escapes. The fox attempts to lure him back again with more avid praise of his singing, but Chanticleer has learned his lesson.

The kids “took notes” and sketched a little as I read.
After we had finished our story, I had them create a few frames from what would be a “Comic Book” edition of the highlights of the story.

classics comics diy


A “Classic” Story [ours was from Chaucer]
Notebooks or Scratch Paper
8.5X11 or 9×12 blank art paper
Pens and Markers

Read a classic story to your children as they “take notes.”
Discuss the most important scenes of the story.
Have the kids sketch these scenes very roughly in notebooks or on scratch paper.
Divide a sheet of paper into 4 panels by folding the paper in halves, vertically and horizontally, and unfolding once again.
Have the kids pencil in their comics, drawing the characters, writing out their speeches in bubles (if desired), and placing simple titles below/above each panel.
NOTE: For best results, have the kids write the words for their captions BEFORE they draw speech bubbles around those captions.
Next, the kids go over the pencil markings in fine pen or marker.
Finally, they colour in the comics.


The Chicken Story as Told by the Nun Pilgrim’s Priest, by Bisha

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Shanticleer, by Toby
Yes, that’s right, in the first panel, below, Pertelote tells Chanticleer, “It’s probably just gas,” after he tells her he’s had a bad dream.
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The Kids’ Chaucer Notes and the Process of Creating their “Classics Comics”
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