©2003 Walter Wangerin; (P)2009 christianaudio.com
National Book Award, 1980
"Paul Michael enlivens the text with a deep, robust voice that keeps a good pace." (AudioFile)
"Belongs on the same shelf with Animal Farm, Watership Down, and The Lord of the Rings." (Los Angeles Times)
This is a strange and entertaining fable, a pacey cross between Lord of the Rings and Watership Down. The heroic (if vain) Chanticleer, after some small domestic dramas, must face down an ancient evil in a hybrid of chicken farm and epic fantasy landscape.The reader has a great time, alternating between the Br'er Rabbit folksy and cod-Nordic Saga.
The hero is wise, lonely, and flawed-but-Chosen; the females are gentle, passive, and adoring; the Evil is fearsome and, uh, evil; and you're either with Chanticleer or against him in the final extremely bloody battle. It's a straight-up patriarchal fantasy of the rawest kind. It's an odd effect, as the original Chanticleer stories mock the rooster's delusional belief that he makes the sun rise and are a satire on exactly the sort of naive chivalric story 'Book of the Dun Cow' winds up being. In this story the rooster actually does have some sort of mystical role ordained by God and it's extremely important this not be questioned. Sometimes it feels a bit like the sort of story the Pigs would assign young subservient animals to read in Animal Farm.
However! its fun, affecting, wonderfully read, only occasionally annoying, and a good way to spend 8 hours. Four stars!
"The Barnyard Battles Heinous Evil"
This book is best listened to. You know how some books paint vivid images in your mind? Well, this book paints audible sounds in your mind. I love the voices and personalities Paul Michael paints with his narration. I would have never envisioned Chantacleer with a southern drawl, but it fits!
The story -- is more than just a classic struggle of good against evil. The evil is so evil you can taste it; Wangerin paints the evil creatures as vividly as he creates the "good" animals. The "good" animals each have fully developed personalities that make the barnyard and its environs very like a human community; you have the innocents, the conniving, the thieves, the naive, and everything in between.
My absolute favorite scene in the book is the night before battle, when Chantacleer gently crows blessings and affirmations individually on each creature in his realm, singing away their fears with his voice and replacing them with peace. He sings the entire night away, filling his "people" with the strength they need to face what they all fear will be their death, death at the hands of the most gruesome and nasty creatures ever to fill the earth.
The writing is sheer delight, the characters are full-fleshed, and the story itself is, well, you'd best read for your self; I guarantee the battle will keep you fully engaged!
This book is Good, in the best sense of the word. A must-read (or, in this case a "must-listen"). Well worth it at any price.
"a well kept secret"
I read this book in college and loved it - it was fantastic to listen to it again as I drove around in my job. Anyone who loved Animal Farm will adore this different twist on the life inside a barnyard.
"A beautiful story, skillfully narrated."
This is an amazing and beautiful story, not to be missed. Stunning characterization, good vs evil, humor in the relationships of the heroes. All the elements of a memorable story not soon forgotten.
I am well pleased.
Now on my top 5 fiction books ever.
"Excellent Performance, Excellent Story"
The narration was very well done, especially the character voices.
Mundo Cani Dog. His voice was really well done, and he has some of the best characterization and plot elements in the book!
Incredible character voices. He really put a lot of oomph and character into them, and they just ooze with personality.
It made me both laugh and cry at various parts. It is truly a classic, with a lot of joyful moments and also somber and sad moments.
Listen to this book! It's a classic right up there with Watership Down, Animal Farm, or Lord of the Rings.
A special story, and it is good to now have the Afterword to help understand the author's work.
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