The Farmer and the Clown

Marla Frazee. S&S/Beach Lane, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4424-9745-0
Frazee (Boot & Shoe) crafts an affecting wordless narrative about a solitary man and his unexpected visitor. The action transpires on an austere gray-brown prairie beneath a dust-colored sky, where a frowning farmer watches a colorful circus train bouncing along a rough track. The slim, white-bearded farmer, dressed in a somber black hat and overalls, is startled to see a knee-high clown ejected from the caboose. The slouching farmer approaches the clown, who mimes the accident and rushes to be comforted. Back at the farmer's cabin, the clown washes the paint off his face, revealing a mouth turned down in a child's sorrow. The next day, the farmer cavorts to cheer him up, improving his own mood in the process; the companions milk a cow and juggle fresh eggs, to the dismay of four hens. Frazee expertly paces the story in sequential panels, implying the grandfatherly man's growing tenderness for the lost child. The circus train's return feels bittersweet until readers observe that the farmer will not be alone for long. A gorgeously executed account of the power of companionship and compassion. Ages 4–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/08/2014
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