what fun we have had with chanticleer and pertelot. i first told the tale as the simple story of chanticleer and the fox. the children enjoyed it immensely, and wondered if our rooster, ruddy, looked like the magnificent hero. tenderfoot began a drawing at once; it seems to be a theme with her: illustrating a new story. next came chanticleer needlefelted to give a friend. then a watercolor. little man began stalking the woods by the creek, hoping for a fox sighting. he was rewarded one afternoon when we were outside and there came a great hullaballoo from the woods. he immediately went to the shed and strode forth with a sledgehammer in hand, with which he chased away a fox who was engaged in a fracas with a slightly bloody ruddy!! that incident aside, he also made letters out of playdough: F for feathers, C for Comb, B for beak, and tenderfoot made an E for eye, all body parts that are featured in the story as sources of pride for chanticleer. she also formed chanticleer, pertelot, and the fox. first she made them flat on the table, but then they emerged in three dimension which has aroused little man’s curiousity.
the story has grown substantially since the original telling of it. this is the gist of it, with many changeable variants that get woven in by the children’s spontaneous participation. . . . . .
chanticleer and pertelot now have nine chicks together, and when the proud father sees the good woman teaching her two daughters their letters, he decides he and pertelot will also learn so that they can teach their chicks. the couple begin learning alongside the girls in secret, doing things like hanging about when study is outside and perching on windowsills when inside. before long they know the letters and can count. they teach the chicks, who spend all sorts of time counting up all their beaks and discovering that they all have the same number of beaks, eyes, combs, and feet but their feathers vary. they also play with adding up and multiplying beaks, feets, and so on. chanticleer and pertelot keep up with their lessons, and as seasons pass they learn how the letters combine to make words: soon they can read, which they teach the young ones how to do as well. now much time is spent putting words together: pecking them into wood, scratching them into the ground, arranging them with compost and corn, and laying them out with worms and insects.
one morning chanticleer wakes up and, after singing his greeting to the sun, he gets to thinking about the incident with the fox and decides that they need to make a trap. he holds a meeting with his family, and a plan is devised: two chicks are to enter the house when it is empty and the door open, which it is on pleasant days as the woman likes to let in fresh air this way, and the chicks are to locate and borrow a book on traps. this they do, and now a net trap, a snare, is selected, the book returned, and ropes taken from in the shed. everyone sets to weaving the ropes into a net, and when it is large enough it is laid out under leaves in the woods by the creek. it is fastened to the trees and the whole family is eager to see what falls into it.
days go by and ants are seen climbing on it, but it doesn’t trap them. bluejays and crows come and go but these remain unsnared. one afternoon, the lone baby rooster decides he’s going to go in search of something big and lure it back. he just can’t wait any longer. he sets off into the woods and after a time he spots a raccoon up in a tree. the raccoon spots him too, and it isn’t much later that he has led the varmint back toward the snare, which when the coon jumps onto, swooosh! it gathers him up and bags him! success! the chickens are delighted and there is much rejoicing, which draws the woman and her daughters toward the noise. what a surprise they get to see a snared raccoon. the woman takes the bag down, puts it in the truck, and goes down the mountain with her daughters to release it in the forest below. on the way home, she asks who made the trap? her girls look at her and tell her they thought it was her. the ride home is quiet, all three wondering about the trap and how it came to be laid out.