The Farmer and the Monkey

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
The Farmer and the Monkey Book Poster Image
Farmer gets a second unexpected circus guest in fun sequel.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Builds emotional intellingence as it shows through the farmer's body language when he's feeling sad or mad or happy. Being a wordless book, it can encourage kids to use their verbal skills to tell the story out loud from looking at the pictures. 

Positive Messages

Be kind to a visitor who needs warmth, shelter, and hospitality. Even if you don't speak the same language, you can share good times through music. Even someone who's a little wild and noisy can be fun to play with -- and can spice up your regular routine.

Positive Role Models

The farmer throws the monkey out but then brings him back in after he spends a night out in the cold. He comforts the monkey, feeds him and lets him sleep inside, and they become friends. The moneky is wild and noisy, but freindly and grateful, giving the farmer something before he leaves. 

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Marla Frazee's The Farmer and the Monkey is the second book in a wordless trilogy about a farmer who gets visited by members of a traveling circus. In the first book, The Farmer and the Clown, the farmer plays host to a little clown who fell or jumped off the circus train. He returns the clown to the circus train the next day, after they share a picnic together, but as that story ends, we see a monkey from the circus now following the farmer home. This installment starts right where Book 1 left off. 

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What's the story?

As THE FARMER AND THE MONKEY begins, the farmer, with his long white beard and holding the clown's red pointy hat, is walking back home from his picnic with the circus clown (chronicled in Book 1) after the clown returned to the circus. What he doesn't see is the circus monkey trailing him. When the monkey knocks on the door, the farmer lets him in and the monkey zooms in and generally creates mayhem. The farmer gets mad and turns him out into the night. Then it starts to snow. When the farmer wakes up, he sees the monkey buried up to his neck in a blanket of snow and brings the monkey inside to warm up. After giving the monkey a bath, they play music together (the farmer on his banjo, the monkey on a drum the farmer builds for him), read a book, and then go to sleep. But come morning, the monkey goes wild again, scaring the farm animals with his loud drumming. After another peaceful night, they wake up to find a train headed their way. Could it be the circus train? The monkey gets dressed and goes off to meet it. 

Is it any good?

This fun sequel shows the solitary farmer again growing and changing after an encounter with a member of the circus. His quiet, solitary life is upended but enrciched by his new friendship with an unexpected visitor. The emotional changes are nuanced and the art is fantastic, with the dynmic interplay of largely gray backgrounds and deftly chosen spot color like the monkey's yellow collar and the farmer's red longjohns. Kids and caregivers will have fun fillling in the words in this wordless gem. They can also try to guess what's going to happen in the final book in the trilogy. There are some subtle hints in the last pages.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the emotional shifts in the relationship between The Farmer and the Monkey. At first the farmer shuts the monkey out. What makes him change his mind and let him in?

  • What do you think about a story that has no words? What makes it a a story? Try making up your own wordless tale. 

  • What do you think will happen in the final book? What clues to what might happen do you see in the final pages?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Picture books and wordless stories

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