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.
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.