Cover image for Serious farm
Serious farm
Egan, Tim.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, [2003]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 27 cm
Farmer Fred takes his work very seriously and so do his animals, until they decide they need to make the farm more fun and set out to find a way to make Farmer Fred laugh.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.6 0.5 73898.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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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?

Author Notes

Tim Egan is the author and illustrator of several offbeat and humorous tales for children. He is consistently recognized for his individuality and delightful illustrations. Born in New Jersey, Tim moved to California to attend the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He still lives in southern California with his wife, Ann, and their two sons. To learn more about Tim Egan, visit his Web site at For a complete list of books by Tim Egan, visit www.houghton

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Egan's (The Experiments of Doctor Vermin; Chestnut Cove) dignified animal characters tend to meet life's challenges with cool stoicism, despite the occasional urge to act silly. In this dryly funny story, the furred and feathered residents of Farmer Fred's barnyard likewise cultivate a dispassionate attitude: "The pigs, the cows, the horses, the chickens, the rabbit, the sheep. All extremely serious." Everyone, especially Farmer Fred himself, wears the determined, impassive gaze of the morning commuter. So much nonchalance bothers Edna the cow, who launches an initiative to make Farmer Fred laugh. The animals try absurdity after absurdity: they perform impromptu acrobatics, wear Groucho glasses and, in the pigs' case, bark like dogs ("That's more weird than funny," Farmer Fred shrugs). Farmer Fred turns out to be one tough customer, meeting the animals' shenanigans with steely, W.C. Fields-caliber resistance. Egan's deadpan voice delivers maximum comic value, and his muted watercolors convey the animals' combination of shyness and hilarity; a shift of the eyebrows or a slight tilt of the mouth can betray a long-suppressed sense of humor. Yet this tale has heart as well as high jinks. When the animals decide to run away from the problem, Farmer Fred hurries after them: "Sure I'm serious, but that doesn't mean you have to be," he says. "And, besides, we're family.... I need you." Egan acknowledges the awkward but heartfelt exchanges of affection that so often pass between family members, as his characters, initially distant from one another, reach a warm and realistic understanding. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-There's nothing funny about life on Farmer Fred's farm until Edna, the cow, decides that it's time for a change and convinces the other animals to try to get the man to lighten up. Edna climbs onto the fence and crows like a rooster, but Farmer Fred fails to see the humor. When the pigs bark like dogs, he finds it "more weird than funny." The animals dress up in his clothes and dance, but he doesn't even crack a smile. Discouraged, the creatures pack up one night and leave home. After searching high and low, the farmer finds them in the woods and has a serious chat with them about how friends and family solve problems and take care of one another. However, after giving the animals a talking to, he chortles under his breath at the notion of "Cows and chickens runnin' wild in the woods." The understated tone of the text is supported perfectly by the humorous ink-and-watercolor illustrations, from the serious countenance of Farmer Fred, mirrored in the animals' faces to their antics to his ever-so-slight smile. The author/illustrator dares his audience not to smile, but he can't be taken too seriously.-Carolyn Janssen, Children's Learning Center of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.