Guide/Reviews Database
Frazee, Marla

The Farmer and the Monkey

(2) PS The sequel to Frazee's The Farmer and the Clown (rev. 11/14; winner of the 2015 Boston Globe–Horn Book Picture Book Award) begins where the first book left off, with a circus monkey sneaking home behind the farmer, who is despondent that his little clown friend has just left. The monkey stays out of sight, peeking around corners and peering through the farmer's window. It watches as the farmer sits slumped across from a chair empty but for the clown's pointed red hat. When the farmer notices the monkey, and invites it in, the vivacious creature tears around the farmhouse, carelessly crushing the treasured hat. The farmer, horrified, banishes the little monkey outside for the night. And now the mood, and the viewer's loyalties, shift. We are sad for the farmer, whose memento has been mangled, but now equally sad for the irrepressible monkey, who becomes buried in an overnight snowstorm. With impeccable pacing, and completely wordlessly, Frazee conducts her drama. It takes several pages, and many small moments, for the farmer and the monkey to appreciate each other, but at book's end when, inevitably, the monkey rejoins the circus train, the creature carries with it a drum, handmade by the farmer, and leaves behind a circus ticket. Frazee conveys the complexities of relationships through use of posture and facial expression. The layers of pencil and gouache have a depth and texture that makes the empty space around the lonely farmer's cabin feel full of possibility. Happily, the farmer, with the monkey's help, has found some (quieter) company on his farm, and the final page shows him comfortably leaning against his cow, playing banjo to a cozy group of hens, circus ticket tucked carefully into his hatband.


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