The Farmer and the Clown
Farmer and the Clown
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Marla Frazee
ISBN 9781442497443
Beach Lane/S&S, 2014.
5 stars
Keywords: circus farm farmer-and-clown friendship marla-frazee wordless-books

The Farmer and the Clown
by Marla Frazee

Marla Frazee (All the World) begins her wordless masterpiece at sunrise, as a farmer sets out to work.

He takes pitchfork to hay. The furrow on his brow echoes the furrows of his field; his long white beard comes to a triangular point. The muted palette plays up the brown of the earth, the gold of the hay, the stark-white clouds. He takes a break to stand, pitchfork in hand, and watch a circus train--a spray of colors moving on the tracks abutting his farmland. The double-page image accentuates the seemingly endless horizon line. On the next page, something falls from the train, and the farmer drops his pitchfork in surprise. In two side-by-side framed images, Frazee charts the farmer's approach and zeroes in on the clown-child left behind, who gives the bearded man a wide smile.

The farmer takes him by the hand--the red upward-pointing clown hat the perfect yin to the yang of the man's downward-pointing snow-white beard. He gives up his bed, and even makes funny faces to cheer the little fellow. The next day, as they set out for a picnic, the train returns, and readers know they must part. But oh what a moving farewell the clown gives his farmer, with the unfettered affection of a child. As the train pulls away, we see that the farmer has given the child a memento. And the farmer has gained something, too. In 32 pages, Frazee takes us on an emotional journey that neither farmer, nor clown--nor reader--will ever forget.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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