Freddy Goes to Florida

The first book in the series is not actually about Freddy, but introduces the animals on Mr. Bean’s farm. The book opens in the middle of winter on a farm in New York state. The animals were tired of being cold (especially problematic because Mr. Bean had no money for repairs), especially Charles the rooster, who had to get up early every morning and wade through the snow to crow to wake up Mr. Bean. A migrating swallow suggested to him one day that that they migrate to Florida where it was nice and warm. Some animals were needed on the farm, for example, at least one horse so Mr. Bean could go to town. Jinx the cat suggested they draw straws, and the next day had a robin draw him a map to Florida, in return for a promise not to chase him and his family.

The animals that left the farm were Jinx the black cat, Freddy the pig, Robert the dog, Hank the horse, Mrs. Wiggins the cow, Alice and Emma the ducks, four mice: Eek, Quik, Eeny, and Cousin Augustus (who snored), and Mr. and Mrs. Webb, spiders who Mrs. Wiggins let spin a web on her horns for the trip. Charles the Rooster wanted badly to come, as he especially hated having to get up early in the morning to wade out in the snow and crow to wake up Mr. Bean, but his wife Henrietta refused. She changed her mind when she saw him crying as they left. They went down the road, and Freddy made up a traveling song that they all sang.

The animals evaded a man with an automobile (and a son), who wanted to capture them: Mrs. Wiggins butted him sounded with her head. They went around towns and traveled in the evening after that. When they came to Washington D.C., they decided to meet the President. Mr. Bean had guessed that they had gone to Florida, and his senator had heard about the animals, so they were treated well, given a big parade through town, and got to shake the president’s hand.

They stayed the night during a thunderstorm in an abandoned house, where the chimney swallows told them that people would come to look for treasure. The next morning, Mr. Webb inquired of an ant where good fly catching was. The ant bemoaned having to move from their previous house with gold floors and ceilings. Mr. Webb asked directions to see for himself, and then told the other animals the location. They dug it up, but, as Henrietta pointed out, they had no way to carry it, so they buried it again.

After that they arrived in Florida, spending a month by the ocean. They got tired of that and decided to tour the rest of the state. They got lost visiting the Big Cypress Swamp, eventually swimming over to an island with nice grass for Hank and Mrs. Wiggins to have a snack. As they climbed out, though, the logs in the water came to life, turning into alligators, who said they would eat them for supper. Freddy said that would be inhospitable, so the alligators took them to the Grandfather of All the Alligators for a decision. Grandfather said that if the animals didn’t want to be eaten for supper to eat them for lunch. Freddy said that they had thousands of miles to visit and to tell them about where they came from. Grandfather said he would love to hear news of the outside world, so Freddy, then Jinx, and finally Charles (who liked to talk) told him everything about their country. The alligators all enjoyed it, and thanked them for the pre-dinner entertainment. Henrietta threatened that Charles would tell the President, who would come and drive the alligators out of the swamp. Grandfather said he had never seen a chicken fly, so Henrietta told Charles to fly across to the other side. Fortunately, Charles caught a wind and glided over, whereupon Grandfather told the other alligators to lead them out of the swamp.

Spring came, and the birds started migrating back, so the animals started, too. They found an old phaeton that someone was throwing away, and hooked Hank up with a rope to draw it, so they could bring the gold they found back to Mr. Bean. When they arrived at the house there were three burglars living there, whom they scared away by painting themselves, and the burglars thought they were going crazy. After playing dress-up with the jewels the burglars had stolen, they decided they should return everything. So they put it all in the phaeton and went to the nearest house. The dogs had a little trouble getting the ladies to understand what they wanted, but when they came over, they identified some of the things that burglars had stolen. They had heard about the animals, and knew that it would take them a long time to return everything, so they placed an ad in the newspaper for anyone who had something stolen to come a get it. Robert saw an alarm clock on the lady’s shelf, and “asked” for it, eventually getting it by trial and error. This way Mr. Bean could get up in the morning, and Charles would not have to wake up early and go out in the cold.

They dug up the gold, put it in the phaeton, and started off, using the alarm clock to wake them up (although with some difficulty). When they had nearly arrived, the man in the automobile at the beginning saw them sleeping (they had some trouble with the alarm clock), and saw the gold in the phaeton,. He and his son tied up Charles and Henrietta who were guarding the gold (but had fallen asleep), and took them and the gold to their house. The animals rescued them by the Webbs instructing flies to come in and bother the men, who ran away. They rescued Charles and Henrietta, then invaded the house and took back the gold. The mice tried to chew through the tires of the automobile, and although they were tough, they managed to get them so that the tires popped before the man was able to catch up with the animals.

The animals returned home to the great excitement of the other animals and Mr. and Mrs. Bean. When Mr. Bean saw the gold he was quite surprised, and said that since it was so much money there, he could build them all nice barns. He also rescinded his Charles’ requirement to wake him up in the morning or be fricaseed for dinner.

Freddy Goes to the North Pole

After their return from Florida, the farm settles down to normal life. Jinx, who had learned to read sitting on Mrs. Bean’s lap while she read to Mr. Bean, taught Freddy, who took to it immediately. But an ennui settled down, nonetheless, and they wished they could have some more adventures. Problem was, they could not just leave Mr. Bean so soon, since they were needed on the farm, and he did feed them and give them shelter. So instead they started a travel company giving local tours to animals from other farms, which was wildly successful. Barnyard Tours, Inc. organized another trip to Florida, which was a huge success. Animals that couldn’t go to Florida would buy tours of the local area. The animals generally paid in services, so eventually they had all their farm work covered by other animals. It got so that Mr. Bean would be talking to Mrs. Bean in the evening about, say, clearing “the lot down back of the pond,” and by morning there was a pile of stumps and an empty field.

Eventually the animals on the Bean farm get bored of going to the same places over and over again, dealing with inane questions. Plus, they had stored up enough payments that they did not need to work for several years. So Freddy proposed to explore the North Pole. Most of the animals on the Bean farm were not interested in exploring such a cold place, but Hank the horse, Mrs. Wogus (Mrs. Wiggins’ sister), Jinx the cat, Robert the dog, Ferdinand the crow, and, of course, Freddy the pig. They set off, and Mr. Bean wished the animals could talk so that he could find out where they were going.

Some later, a limping Ferdinand with a broken wing came walking back up the road to tell that the party had camped too near the edge of the ocean, and been stranded on the chunk of ice as it broke off. They had been picked up by a whaling ship, but both Freddy and Ferdinand noticed that some of the sailors were pork lovers and looked at Freddy greedily. Ferdinand had come back for a rescue party. He picked Mrs. Wiggins, Jack the dog, a white horse from near Centerboro, Cecil the porcupine (dim-witted, but handy because nobody bothers a porcupine), and Bill the goat. Charles and Henrietta were added at Mrs. Wiggins request, and the four mice were added after they successfully attacked Ferdinand and Bill subsequent to Ferdinand scoffing that they would have no use.

The rescue party made it up north and happened on two children who were roped up by their guardians. The animals rescued them, in the processes adding a bear to the party, because in their escape from the two adults they had run in to the bear’s cave, and now the man knew where the bear lived and would shoot him.

After it started snowing food was hard to find, even having a bear with them. So Charles started doing lectures for the local animals in exchange for food and sundries. Many animals followed them to hear more, paying for the next lecture by tramping out a path in the snow (very effective when a hundred deer and moose and bears are doing it).

One morning Jack and Charles, who were on watch, heard an unusual kind of dog, and went to investigate. It turned out to be a pack of wolves, who took them back to their cave. The wolves said they could go if they gave the wolves the two children. Naturally they refused. A little later, the rest of the animals showed up and defeated the wolves who attacked them. However, they could not get in the cave, and they would not give up the children. Charles noticed some sleepy ants and was busy eating them when he had an idea. He woke one up and promised twenty pounds of honey in exchange for the ant army attacking the wolves. The ant captain mobilized the army, and the wolves ran out of the cave yelping.

They had no further problems getting to the north pole, where they found their friends (and the sailors) safe and comfortable in Santa Claus’ house. Santa Claus, however, had a problem. The captain of the ship had suggested that his haphazard manufacturing process (craftsman who were tired of their regimented job came to the north pole and made whatever they wanted to make) and set about making it more efficient. Neither Santa Claus nor the workers liked the changes, but Santa Claus was too conflict-avoidant to say anything. However, both the animals and the sailors had a good time playing snow games with each other.

The animals discovered that sailors liked to tell ghost stories, so they tried to scare them away by dressing up as ghosts and coming in the night. It worked on everyone except one man, who recognized Mrs. Wiggins as a cow and not a ghost, and thought it was a funny joke. Some time later Freddy got an idea while Jinx was talking Treasure Island, the book he was reading. In addition to ghost stories, the sailors were crazy over finding treasure. Freddy drew a treasure map of an island of the coast of Florida and put it in the book the captain was reading. It did not work as well as he hoped, because the captain harnessed up Santa Claus’ reindeer and left by himself. Freddy and Jinx chased him down, explained everything to the reindeer, who conspired to abandon the captain in the Eskimo village where he had stopped.

Freddy had recovered the treasure map, and presented it to the sailors as a gift at the Christmas Eve gift-giving time. The captain dropped the map as he was opening the envelope containing it, and the other sailors saw what it was. So they made plans to leave the next morning.

Santa Claus’ best reindeer had been injured in the flight of the captain, so the horse from Centerboro took his place. He was astonished at how fast they went, much faster than the amount of effort they put in. Santa Claus took the animals home the next day, but got stopped by the constable in Centerboro. The constable and the judge were not in a lenient mood, especially when the accused gave his name as “Santa Claus,” but Santa Claus proved his identity by identifying gifts he had given them when they were kids. (Santa Claus was not above a little blackmail, either. When the constable found out that the judge was still playing with dolls at fourteen, Santa Claus said the he would not mention it and embarrass the judge, and suggested that the constable do the same, because “it would be too bad if those active little grandchildren of yours should get a lot of drums and whistles and tin horns next Christmas” and disturb the peace and quiet the constable preferred.

Freddy the Detective

The book opens with Jinx the cat and the two ducks, Alice and Emma, walking in the woods. They are nervous that someone is following them, and that someone turned out to be Freddy. He had been inspired to be a detective after reading Sherlock Holmes and was practicing shadowing them. As they walk back, Jinx asks if Freddy had heard about the missing toy train of Everett’s (one of the two kids brought back from the trip to the north pole).

Investigation into the mystery led them to the discovery that the rats (led by the elder Simon) had returned to the barn. Jinx had ordered them out of the barn when he first came to the farm. They laughed at him, but ended up losing several battles and agreed to live in the woods in exchange for a cease-fire with Jinx. Now they were back, and defiant. Shortly afterwards Freddy and Jinx found out why: the cars on the wooden train had no floors, so the rats hid underneath and walked the train to the grain bin. Trying to flip over the train was not helpful because the cars were too small to get at the rats, and the rats attacked the attacker. And then they insulted the attacker, in this case, Freddy, who had broken a tooth.

While Freddy waited for an idea for a solution to the problem with the rats’ armored train (“a detective’s job isn’t done when he figures out who did it, he also has to put them in jail.”), he solved the case of a widowed rabbit’s missing son. After taking the request, he wandered around, finding a young rabbit quite by accident, who was trying to feed a baby bird watercress (“tut, tut, it’ll be sick”). After an unsuccessful attempt at interrogation which frightened the rabbit, Freddy took responsibility for the bird and told the rabbit to go home. Then, when Freddy went to go home, he discovered some robbers living back behind the pond, which he filed away for as a later problem to solve. The rabbit turned out to be widow’s missing son, and Freddy acquired a reputation. This led to quite a few animals bringing him cases, which he proceeded to solve.

One of the cases turned out to be Ferdinand the crow stealing one of the dog’s dinner. The general consensus was that a jail was needed, so they established a jail in an empty stall in the barn, and elected Charles judge. Charles was on the verge of turning his election into an opportunity for making one of his vacuous but fine-sounding speeches (which he could do as long as his sharp-tongued wife, Henrietta, wasn’t around), but Jinx, who was not fond of his speeches had hired racoons to throw tomatoes at him, and he was to proud of his appearance to give a speech when decorated with tomato.

A number of animals wanted to be detectives like Freddy, so he trained them to shadow people. Even Mrs. Wiggins the cow got into the spirit, but her shadowing just trampled the corn and made Mr. Bean upset. However, she did have some ideas that Freddy was able to use to good success. One was to attach a hook to the train and pull it up. So Freddy and Jinx got the rope in the barn with the hook on it, and had Mrs. Wiggins walk away with the other end of the rope when they called. The rats dropped out of the train, and they gave the train back to Everett. The rats no longer had a way to get food unprotected, and they had captured Simon’s son, Zeke, whom Charles sentenced to three months in jail. Shortly afterwards there were over thirty animals in jail, which Freddy discovered was because the prisoners were having a big, non-stop party. Charles even sentenced himself to get in on the act, leading to a very distraught Henrietta, who thought he had disappeared.

About this time the sheriff, along with a detective from the City, came to ask Freddy about the robbers. At this point in the series the animals could not talk, so Freddy communicated by nodding yes and shaking his head no that he would help them, but wanted the credit from their capture. The sheriff agreed, and said he would get the $5000 reward (in 1932, when the book was published, that had the same buying power as $80,000 in today’s money). The city detective was incredulous, also elitist and did not feel like Freddy should get anything.

Freddy dressed up in as a person and went over to the robbers to offer them his help. They forced him to help them rob the Centerboro bank (he was small enough to get through the window), but he had trouble navigating the stepladder with his trotters. He fell, making a lot of noise, waking people up, and causing a pursuit. The robbers drove back to the house at great speed, and told Freddy to get out. He gave them a treasure map, saying $10,000 was buried under the corner of Mr. Bean’s barn. They tied Freddy up, and went to dig it out. Cousin Augustus, the mouse that Freddy had sent to live in the house to get information, gnawed through the ropes. The sheriff and the detective had come to ask Mr. Bean if he had seen robbers in a car; Mr. Bean said no, but referred them to Freddy, who took them to the robbers in the barn. The city detective insisted on taking the credit, so Mr. Bean asked Peter (the bear from the trip to the north pole) to scare him off. The detective left in a hurry, and the sheriff, who like Mr. Bean, respected the animals, promised Freddy the money. Afterwards, Freddy suggested to Jinx that the robbers had been digging up the corner of the barn that was over where Simon and his gang stole the grain, so Jinx went over to investigate.

Meanwhile, the rats had placed a dead crow in the barn, and went to Charles, saying they had seen Jinx eating the crow. Charles, being a bird, and also bitter at Jinx for the tomatoes, was not inclined to believe Jinx’s protestations of innocence. A trial was set, and Freddy investigated. He was confident that Jinx would be acquitted, but that did not make Jinx less nervous, because Freddy would not disclose any details. Jinx’s friends, the regular animals of the farm (excluding the chickens), were confident he was innocent, while the smaller animals were suspicious that a reformed cat was an oxymoron.

The day of the trial saw animals crowded into the barn. Ferdinand the crow was the prosecuting attorney, and called Simon to testify. The rat wanted a promise that he and his family would not be attacked during the trial, which Freddy said they had agreed to, and then wanted safe conduct to the barn afterwards, and Freddy said that if they did not commit a crime between now and the end of the trial they would be allowed to return safely. So Simon told how he had seen Jinx attack and eating the crow, how he had called to Jinx to stop, and was horrified as he watched the scene unfold, etc, etc. His eight family members said the same thing. Freddy cross-examined them, determined there were three rat holes exactly the size of one rat, and wondered how nine rats could look out of three rat holes big enough for one rat apiece.

Freddy called Ferdinand as a witness; Ferdinand did not know of any missing crows in the neighborhood, and no, crows were not known to fly very far from their home. Freddy called Eeny, the mouse, who testified that there were signs of an ink bottle overturned at Miss McMnnikle’s house. Freddy called Miss McMinnikle’s dog, who said she had chicken for dinner the day prior to the alleged murder (Charles’ daughter fainted at this point), and that the claws were put on the rubbish heap but, no, they were not there later in the day. Freddy called Zeke, who said he had been at home all day, but under threat of witnesses saying otherwise, allowed that he had perhaps gone out, in fact, in response to an allegation of being in the kitchen, he said he was not in the kitchen at all—but was interrupted by Simon saying he did not have to answer a question that would incriminate or degrade him.

Freddy then summarized the case. Zeke had taken the chicken claws from the rubbish heap, dyed them black with ink, along with feathers from assorted birds, then planted them in the barn where the rats knew Jinx would be. Freddy produced the evidence, noted that the feathers were assorted, and smelled exactly like ink. He also noted there was no sign of a struggle in the barn, which of course an attacked crow would have made. The jury returned a not guilty verdict. Freddy then called for the arrest of the rats, who had perjured themselves. On finding that prisoners in the jail would be made to do hard labor instead of party all day, the rats made a dash to escape, managed to evade Jinx, but were stymied in their attempts to return to the barn by the metal that Mr. Bean had just finished nailing over the holes. Freddy and Jinx, tired from all the events, left together for a trip, singing one of Freddy’s songs. The book closes with Mrs. Wiggins “humm[ing] the tune to herself for a while in a deep rumble that sounded like hundreds of bullfrogs tuning up.”

Freddy the Politician

Georgie, Robert (dogs), and Jinx (cat) were sleeping in the kitchen of the house while a windstorm was going. It blew open the window, and when Mr. Bean came down to shut it he said he couldn’t possibly take the family to Europe and leave the animals in charge. (The family consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Bean, and two boys that they adopted in a previous book. I don’t know what happened to the boy and girl from the north pole trip.)  Georgie had the idea of electing a president to make sure things got done while they were gone, and when Jinx said it was important to learn how to manage money (and showed that animals didn’t know how), he suggested opening a bank. When the wind blew open the door, they shut it, earning praise from Mr. Bean.

The wind had also blown in a very cold and tired woodpecker. The next morning they found out that his name was John Quincy Adams; his family were all named after U.S. presidents because they lived in the sycamore tree on the White House lawn. He was distinguished, so they thought he would make a good president of the bank. After getting some woodchucks to dig safe-deposit vaults under the tool shed they were going to use, Freddy painted a sign and the bank was open for business. After getting inundated with foodstuffs, they charged a penny a month. Animals can usually find money if they need it, so if a squirrel found a nickel, it would be worth paying the bank to keep his nuts safe over the winter. Other animals brought valuables: Ferdinand the crow brought gold coins along with shiny trinkets, and Alice and Emma (ducks) brought the jewelry they’d inherited from Uncle Wesley. Mr. Bean even deposited $100, although he said they had to take the “Adams” off the sign to avoid confusing people, even though it was John Quincy’s name. After the banker in town got upset at him for letting the animals start a competing bank, Mr. Bean withdrew all his money ($5000) and deposited it at First Animal Bank.

After Jinx quit being the treasurer of the bank (John Quincey wanted him there 9am - 3pm, and Jinx was too free and easy going for that), John Quincy flew down to Washington and got his father, Grover, to be treasurer. They had a board meeting, where Freddy agreed to instate Grover as treasurer, and then, the newly expanded vaults being completed, John Quincy voted they have board meetings in the vault, which Freddy seconded. Only later did he realized he did not fit in the board room, but John Quincy was adamant that if he would not attend, they would have the meeting without him.

Now that the bank was up and running and Mr. Bean could see that they were responsible, Freddy announced over Bertram that they would hold elections for President of the First Animal Republic. (Bertram was a wooden clockwork boy, sometime companion to the Bean’s adopted son Adoniram in a previous book until his brother was found and adopted. Ronald, the small rooster, could get in the compartment, would pull levers to make him move, and talk into a microphone. [The animals had somehow acquired the ability to talk.])  Mrs. Wiggins the cow designed a flag for the republic, roughly the U.S. flag except with two stars, for Mr. and Mrs. Bean, made out of Mr. Bean’s worn-out clothes.

At the nomination meeting, John Quincy nominated Grover, on the grounds that he knew about government. Grover gave a speech, and the Simon the rat started obliquely insulting Freddy’s party. Mrs. Wiggins started laughing; she figured it’s always better to laugh and not tell people why you are laughing. It unsettled Grover, and Whibley the owl took the opportunity to remark that his speech was rubbish. Grover challenged him to a duel. Freddy’s party nominated Mrs. Wiggins, who was loved by everyone. A rabbit named Marcus nominated himself.

The woodpeckers held a board meeting to elect a new secretary, after informing Freddy (the current secretary) of the meeting. As he did not attend the meeting (due to his size), he was voted out and they voted John Quincy’s brother X as secretary, and Freddy as 16th vice president (the more the vice-presidents, the more important the bank, as John Quincy helpfully explained). The duel was held, which basically involved Whibley’s niece Vera insulting Grover without him being able to attack her, and then Whibley, who had been perched above grabbed Grover and “apologized” saying that Grover was a stuffed shirt and did talk balderdash, but apologized for saying so.

After Freddy tried unsuccessfully to go on a reducing diet of eat grasshoppers, he talked to Whibley, who advised him that since a fox had dug the tunnel for the large room, there must be another way out (foxes can’t turn around). So Freddy got Peter the bear to expand the secondary tunnel for him, and announced that he would like to the board to vote on him becoming president. John Quincy said he thought the board was unlikely to pass such a measure, but on Freddy’s insistence, he agreed. When the time came, Freddy was in the board room, and had blocked up the entrance so the woodpeckers could not get in (they didn’t know about the secondary entrance). In absence of the president, Freddy started the meeting as 16th vice-president, and voted the woodpeckers out and himself as president.

Freddy tallied the vote, and thought that Mrs. Wiggins was sure to vote, even if the chickens voted for the bird candidate. Grover started promising the animals no-fee banking (prior to being deposed as president), promising the rabbits “right of unrestricted entry to Mr. Bean’s garden,” a revolving door in the hen-house, etc. Henrietta switched the sides of the chicken vote after hearing the whole story of the bank election shenanigans, but told Freddy that Grover had been inviting birds to take up residence. So Freddy did the same thing with woodland animals, promising a home in exchange for a vote for Wiggins.

They made up ballots, “G” for Grover and “W” for Wiggins, adding an “M” for Marcus at the last minute as he decided he really did want to run, persuaded by Simon the rat. Each animal dropped the appropriate ballot into the box. During the counting, Freddy discovered that Grover’s party had been flipping the W’s into M’s. Since Grover insisted on believing they were M’s, Mrs. Wiggins suggested that maybe all the G’s were for Georgie the dog, who had been a potential candidate many had been interested in. Grover refused to have anything else to do with the election, and staged a coup by using Bertram. Since Bertram was stronger than any animal, and Grover was protected while he was inside, there was nothing they could do.

Using Bertram, Grover required the animals to go to war against neighboring farms, quickly annexing the nearby ones. He gave the rats freedom to live wherever they wished (as reparations). He tied up Freddy and took him as hostage for obedience by the animals. When Whibley refused his invitation to join the army, and attacked his guards, he punished Freddy with no dinner. Freddy had found that laughing without saying why was a great way of unnerving people, so he did that, so he had a bunch of “laughing nightmares” that night, and the rats guarding him were wrecks by morning.

That day his friends staged a rescue, and he disguised himself as a woman and went to town, staying in the barn of his friend the sheriff. Freddy met with the owner of the bank, and agreed to limit First Animal Banks to animals only if the owner would help him out. Bertram had fallen down the stairs earlier, and no longer worked correctly: sometimes when his right hand was used, that hand went haywire, and sometimes opened the door and pulled the operator out. Freddy had arranged with some wasps to be in the house, and a number of other animals were there, too. The bank owner invited Grover to tea, and Grover, of course came. The bank owner tried several times to put Bertram in a situation that required the use of his right hand, eventually succeeding. Bertram did misfunction, including opening the door, whereupon the wasps went in, and Grover flew out. The “stuffed” owl on the mantlepiece, Whibley, caught Grover. The next day Bertram repealed all of Grover’s laws, and invited Mrs. Wiggins to be president.


“Incorporate?” asked Robert. “What’s that?”
“Oh, I ran across it in reading,” said Freddy importantly. “It’s what all companies do. You draw up rules and bylaws and then you pay the government a fee, and then you’re incorporated. That means that whatever you do after that is legal.” (Freddy Goes to the North Pole)

“Freddy was not greatly disturbed by [the mother rabbit’s] tears. Most animals don’t like to cry because it makes their eyes red, but white rabbits have red eyes anyway, so crying doesn’t make them look any different. And as they are very sentimental and tender-hearted little animals, and easily upset, they cry a good deal.” (Freddy the Detective)

“[Mr. Weezer, owner of the bank] didn’t smile, but Mr. Bean didn’t mind, because Mr. Weezer never smiled unless you paid him something. He was not an unkind man, though—just terribly interested in banking.” (Freddy the Politician)

Review: 10