A solitary farmer on an empty plain receives the most unlikely visitor.
A tall, scowling farmer labors with
a pitchfork on an endless brown field. In the distance, surprisingly, a steam
train crosses the horizon. As the train chugs off the edge of the spread, a
jolt propels something off the caboose. The startled farmer sets out in that
direction. He finds a small clown, wearing white makeup, a red-and-yellow
costume and a broad smile. The clown deftly pantomimes having fallen off the
train—action and emotion shine wordlessly—and the farmer takes him home.
Silently they stare at each other, eat and wash their faces. Without makeup,
the child-clown’s smile disappears; is he sad to lose that connection to his
home-train, or had the smile been made of makeup all along? With growing
tenderness, the farmer watches over his sleeping guest and, come morning, hops
and dances to cheer him up. They juggle eggs and share real farmwork until the
circus train returns along the distant tracks. Its shape and primary colors
make it look like a toy, especially against the soft, textured grays and browns
of the farm, skies and earth. Using gouache and black pencil, Frazee—a virtuoso
of mood and line—takes the surly farmer through bafflement, contemplativeness
and true affection.
The beauty of an unexpected visit, done beautifully. (Picture book. 3-6)