A disruptive monkey takes up the action in this wordless sequel to The Farmer and the Clown. Returning to his farm disheartened, a tall red clown’s hat beneath his arm and its owner’s circus train speeding away behind him, the farmer initially fails to perceive the circus monkey apparently left behind. Trailing him in a yellow collar and red cap, the monkey bows to the farmer at the door, then launches into a whirl of activity (even crumpling the clown’s crisp chapeau) that gets it sent promptly outdoors. But a fall of overnight snow awakens the farmer’s sympathies and care—at least until the monkey has rested enough to cause further chaos. In her signature art style, Frazee slyly turns the previous narrative of loss into one of antic comedy just right for anyone who has wrangled a toddler: this time, when the circus train returns, the farmer looks downright relieved to embrace the solo life. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
– Publishers Weekly, August 31, 2020
Frazee’s soft colors, careful lines, and masterful compositions work their magic once again to evoke mood and feeling in a way that children can immediately grasp. The experience hits adult readers just as powerfully.
– Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2020
The sequel to Frazee's The Farmer and the Clown (rev. 11/14; winner of the 2015 Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Picture Book) begins where the first book left off, with a circus monkey sneaking home behind the farmer, who is despondent that his little clown friend has just left. The monkey stays out of sight, peeking around corners and peering through the farmer's window. It watches as the farmer sits slumped across from a chair empty but for the clown's pointed red hat. When the farmer notices the monkey, and invites it in, the vivacious creature tears around the farmhouse, carelessly crushing the treasured hat. The farmer, horrified, banishes the little monkey outside for the night. And now the mood, and the viewer's loyalties, shift. We are sad for the farmer, whose momento has been mangled, but now equally sad for the irrepressible monkey, who becomes buried in an overnight snowstorm. With impeccable pacing, and completely wordlessly, Frazee conducts her drama. It takes several pages, and many small moments, for the farmer and the monkey to appreciate each other, but at the book's end whem, inevitably, the monkey rejoins the circus train, the creature carries with it a drum, handmade by the farmer, and leaves behind a circus ticket. Frazee conveys the complexities of relationships through use of posture and facial expression. The layers of pencil and gouache have a depth and texture that makes the empty space around the lonely farmer's cabin feels full of possibility. Happily, the farmer, with the monkey's help, has found some (quieter)company on his farm, and the final page shows him comfortably leaning against his cow, playing banjo to a cozy group of hens, circus ticket tucked carefully into his hatband. MAEVE VISSER KNOTH
– Horn Book Magazine, November/December 2020