Would you like to read something that’s clean and wholesome and playful enough for children, but also witty, subtle, and clever enough for any adult who doesn’t take himself too seriously?
I had to go back to my childhood for these treasures–the various adventures of Freddy the Pig, by Walter R. Brooks (d. 1958). Brooks created Mr. Ed, the talking horse, but the Freddy books were his magnum opus. I loved them when I was in grammar school. I love them even more now.
Freddy is a talking pig who is a poet, a detective, banker, newspaper editor, polar explorer, magician, and several other things. He lives on the Bean farm near the Adirondacks with many other talking animals. The farmer, Mr. Bean, has never been quite comfortable with this.
If you’ve ever wondered how a spider might deliver a lecture, how a cow might cope with a swing, or how a pig might fare at flipping flapjacks, these books are for you. You might wish to start with the first of the series, Freddy Goes to Florida, and read them in order. Or simply grab the first one you can get and just dive in.
Among my favorites are Freddy Goes Camping, Freddy Plays Football, and Freddy and the Ignormus. There are dozens of these, and to this day I haven’t read them all–which gives me something exquisitely pleasant to look forward to. All are illustrated by the great Kurt Wiese.
If you’re a sophomoric sap committed to a vision of radical despair, maybe the Freddy books can’t do much for you. You won’t be interested in Mr. Webb the spider’s movie career, or Uncle Solomon the screech owl’s penetrating criticisms of Freddy’s poetry. But if your breath can still fog a mirror, I suspect these books will do you good.
I’m not sure I can get away with classifying these as fantasy. Then again, I don’t know what else you’d call them… other than a gift from God.