Frazee, Marla

The Farmer and the Circus

(2) PS Frazee's wordless trilogy that began with The Farmer and the Clown (rev. 11/14) comes to a satisfying end. The story opens at the circus, where the young clown refuses a red clown suit, preferring instead to wear the farmer's broad hat and carry a rake. When the monkey appears, carrying the farmer's picnic basket, the monkey and young clown "play farm" as they pretend to milk an elephant, dance in the sunrise, and picnic together. The only person missing from the scene is the beloved farmer. But not for long. Across the wide horizon he comes (holding the circus ticket left by the monkey in The Farmer and the Monkey, rev. 11/20). As the story unfolds to its warmhearted conclusion, an adult clown (the young clown's mother, perhaps?) and the farmer are shown settling in at the farm, arms around each other, as they watch the monkey and the little clown pick apples for a picnic. Everything is resolved: loving adults to care for the child and the monkey and an end to loneliness for all. Frazee layers pencil and gouache to create her wide-open sky and an expansive prairie. She adeptly uses series of spot illustrations, surrounded by clean white space, and rich double-page spreads to pace the story. Readers will find little real tension but a great deal of warmth and skilled storytelling as the sun rises on a new, untraditional family.


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