Freddy the Pig is the central figure in a series of 26 books written between 1927 and 1958 by American author Walter R. Brooks, and illustrated by Kurt Wiese. Consisting of 25 novels and one poetry collection, they focus on the adventures of a group of animals living on a farm in rural upstate New York.
Freddy is introduced as "the smallest and cleverest" of the pigs on the Bean farm. One of the ensemble to begin with, he becomes the central character shortly into the series. Freddy's interests drive the books as he becomes a detective, politician, newspaper editor, magician, pilot, and other vocations or avocations. A recurring villain is the slimy but dignified Simon, who leads a gang of criminal rats. Human characters include Mr. and Mrs. Bean, who own the farm, the population of local Centerboro, and human villains.
Brooks created his animals for To and Again (1927) (later retitled Freddy Goes to Florida). It took some time before their personalities — and their ability to talk to humans when they chose — were fully developed. In the remainder of the series, the animals of the Bean Farm lead a highly developed life, variously operating a bank, a newspaper, the First Animal Republic, and Freddy's detective business, which follows the principles of Sherlock Holmes as Freddy knows them from his reading.
Much of the humor in the books derives from the self-referential way in which the author acknowledges the unreality of talking animals, unlike other children's works in which they are accepted as normal. As the series progresses, the Bean Farm animals attain national fame for their ability to talk and read, and the humans they encounter are taken aback at first (though only momentarily) to find themselves conversing with animals. Although the animals and humans do not age, the stories reflect the social conditions at the time of writing, for example, the books published during World War II have scrap drives and victory gardens.
Despite their popularity in the 1940s and 1950s, the books went out of print in the 1960s, although children's libraries continued to have them. In the past decade they have been republished by Overlook Press, in response to plaintive requests from Freddy fans who treasure their combination of ingenious plots, well-drawn characters, literary allusions, and wholesome (but not cloying) moral lessons. Adam Hochschild, writing in The New York Times Book Review, describes the series as "the moral center of my childhood universe." Hochschild also observes that — when available — sales of the books have increased since when they were first written. Roger Sale, in his history of children's literature, sums it up: "If L. Frank Baum has a successor, it is Brooks." Nicholas Kristof called them "funny, beautifully written gems."
These are all 26 titles in the Freddy the Pig series. Five were originally published with other titles, in parentheses.
- Freddy Goes to Florida, 1927 (To and Again)
- Freddy Goes to the North Pole, 1930 (More To and Again)
- Freddy the Detective, 1932
- The Story of Freginald, 1936 (Freddy and Freginald)
- The Clockwork Twin, 1937 (Freddy and the Clockwork Twin)
- Freddy the Politician, 1939 (Wiggins for President)
- Freddy's Cousin Weedly, 1940
- Freddy and the Ignormus, 1941
- Freddy and the Perilous Adventure, 1942
- Freddy and the Bean Home News, 1943
- Freddy and Mr. Camphor, 1944
- Freddy and the Popinjay, 1945
- Freddy the Pied Piper, 1946
- Freddy the Magician, 1947
- Freddy Goes Camping, 1948
- Freddy Plays Football, 1949
- Freddy the Cowboy, 1950
- Freddy Rides Again, 1951
- Freddy the Pilot, 1952
- Freddy and the Spaceship, 1953
- The Collected Poems of Freddy the Pig, 1953
- Freddy and the Men from Mars, 1954
- Freddy and the Baseball Team From Mars, 1955
- Freddy and Simon the Dictator, 1956
- Freddy and the Flying Saucer Plans, 1957
- Freddy and the Dragon, 1958
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
Did you find this review helpful?