Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Farmer and The Clown

The Farmer and the Clown
illustrated by Marla Frazee
2014 (Beach Lane Books)
Source: Orange County Library

Home. You know where it is when you're there. But sometimes you get a bit separated from home, and you may need a little help finding your way back. 

A baby clown falls off the back of the circus train and into a farmer's field.
He's pitching hay when he sees the clown fall. Rushing to help him, the farmer finds the clown with a smile on his face. He takes the baby clown to his house and begins to take care of him. They share meals and the farmer shows the clown how to do different chores. One day, the two new friends share a picnic lunch under a large tree on the farmer's vast and stark land. In the distance, they catch sight of a train coming toward them. Even from far away, they can see that it is the circus train coming back for the baby clown. What follows is a sweet reunion, a poignant goodbye, and a surprise ending.

I think The Farmer and the Clown may be the most popular book of the year with my kindergarten friends. Their teacher reported that they were very quiet as she showed them the illustrations. Rachel made the comment that perhaps they have to work harder with a wordless book to follow the story. They were very engaged and loved the surprise ending. Marla Frazee is a wonderful illustrator. School Library Journal compares this book to Raymond Briggs's The Snowman. That's high praise but not a stretch. It may be the favorite for the Caldecott Medal. Marla Frazee is certainly deserving.

A really good wordless book lends itself to lessons on inferring or mood. I would want students to think and discuss/write about the farmer with these possible questions: How did the clown baby change his life? What might he do after saying goodbye to the circus performers? What do you think about the ending? There are many rich lesson possibilities with The Farmer and the Clown.

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