We’ve only recently gotten into wordless picture books, and it never fails to amaze me how books with no text can pack such an emotional punch. Marla Frazee’s stunning story, The Farmer and the Clown, may just be my favorite yet. What an understated beauty! This a powerful and poignant read, so spare in its details, yet one of the most emotionally rich stories we’ve picked up in a while. Frazee had both Pickle and I completely mesmerized, and if you haven’t yet read this book, it should skyrocket to the top of your list.
The story begins when the Farmer, working in his fields, is startled by something catapulted out of a passing train. The Farmer is even more startled when he discovers this “something” is a child – all alone – dressed in full clown costume complete with a happy, made-up face. What follows is a spellbinding tale of the Farmer’s rescue of the clown and an unexpected friendship between these two superbly drawn characters; it is a remarkable exploration of loneliness and companionship.
This stirring story provides so much fodder for discussion, and the illustrations made it easy for Pickle to follow along with both the plot and character development. He loved becoming the storyteller of these pages, putting his own unique spin on each picture. The Farmer’s empathy towards the suddenly lost child- and the techniques he uses to comfort the little one who he takes in and protects – are brilliant. His emotional evolution- from accidental guardian to hesitant protector to loving caregiver- is so well done, and it keeps blowing my mind how brilliantly Frazee manages to convey this transformation with such simple illustrations alone. One spread depicting the clown washing off his happy makeup, only to reveal the face of a scared child, is so emotionally resonant that it literally brought tears to my eyes. Though this is a nearly wordless book, the characters in this story speak volumes. There is no doubt in my mind that this will become a cherished classic. We had checked this book out from the library, but as soon as we finished reading it, I ordered it for our home. That’s how much we loved it. And that’s how it know it’s one to treasure.
Want the book? Get it here! The Farmer and The Clown, by Marla Frazee. *This is an affiliate link.
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