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Too Serious

Publication Date: 2006-09-21

Book Review: Serious Farm by Tim Egan
Houghton Mifflin
pb 2006

Book Description
Farmer Fred never smiled much. "Farmin' is serious business," he'd say. "Nothin' funny about corn." And so life on his farm was pretty serious. None of the animals laughed or even smiled. But everyone has to laugh sometimes, including Farmer Fed. The animals try everything to get him to smile: dancing by the light of the moon in Farmer Fred's clothes, singing chickens, sheep disguised in sunglasses and mustaches. Nothing works and finally the animals decide to leave Serious Farm in search of a more cheerful place to chuckle and graze. Will the animals find a livelier home, and will Farmer Fred ever lighten up?

Nothin' funny about DIBELS either. That's what makes this book a must for the primary grade set. Kids will enjoy it for the deadpan humor--and silliness--Tim Eagen portrays so masterfully. But they can also put on their philosopher hats and examine the provenance and purpose of humor. This book will help young children examine the very desperate condition of their own classroom lives--and just may become a touchstone, with "Serious Farm" becoming a code frame for the terrible terrible things shipped out from the U. S. Department of Education.

Maybe you'll end up reading the book aloud in a faculty meeting. . . or to a politician who orates about standards.

And of course the moral equivalent to farm animals running away from their humorless surroundings is for kids to do the same. And if they are powerless to do this, maybe it's time for their parents and teachers to do it for them.

Publishers Weekly and Horn Book Both gave it starred reviews.

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