Tim Egan is our new favorite author of children's books. It all began with Serious Farm, which curiously is left off the list of books at Mr. Egan's website. This cover has Grant Wood's "American Gothic" written all over it. Even though the book is about farm animals acting goofy and doing silly things to overthrow their farmer's suffocating seriousness - even though it's about the importance of not being too serious - the mood is fastened by a bolt of stoicism that runs throughout, as it does in all his books that I've read so far. It's something in the way he draws faces. Yet, that itself is the joke that ultimately brings a smile to his readers' faces. He populates his books with stoic animals that we can't take entirely seriously, and it's this very fact that subverts the stoicism with mirth. (Fishing for a Chesterton quote here.)
Okay, okay, hold on a minute. Just ignore the previous paragraph. I'm thinking about it too much. Look, the bottom line is that Tim Egan's books are a lot of fun, touching but not sentimental, silly but not frivolous, uniquely rendered. My 3-year-old son loves them, as do my wife and I. He does channel something distinctly American. So far, we've read Serious Farm, Metropolitan Cow, Roasted Peanuts (probably our favorite so far), The Pink Refrigerator, and Dodsworth in New York. They're all a joy. Glad to see many more Egan books to read to my kids. And to myself when no one's looking. Tim Egan, please don't stop writing!