Thursday, September 15, 2011

What would Freddy do?

I have been rereading that manifesto where the pigs walk upright, dress like people & generally consider themselves smarter than the rest of the farm animals & by&large the rest of the farm animals accept it.  No, not that manifesto; I mean the Freddy books. 

Freddy the pig is in two book before he really emerges as a force of his own.  In the third farm book by Walter Brooks, Freddy starts solving mysteries around the farm after reading & assimilating the techniques of Sherlock Holmes.  Freddy is such a force the publisher turns around & releases the first two books (which were farm animals adventures generally) & re-releases them under the titles Freddy Goes to Florida & Freddy Goes to the North Pole

In the first book, the farm animals are unhappy with the state of the farm & generally feel put upon by the farmer.  At the outset of one cold winter, they decide to strike out for Florida & have adventures there & back again: robbers, kidnappers (farm animals nappers?), & US Senators.  In the spring, the animals return to the farm, renegotiate their contracts with the farmer.  Everyone makes a few concessions & then all settle back down to a quiet life. 

In the second book, some of the animals are getting itchy feet & they are ready to go a-wandering again.  Some smaller trips are organized (& they incorporate), but it isn't long before Freddy realizes that through judicious management, those animals that want to can be away for a longer journey & a trip to see Santa is planned.  The bulk of the book, though is not about this trip but about the rescue mission when the trip goes awry.  I think the descriptions of what they find at Santa's workshops are my favorite.  A ship of well intentioned but unqualified whalers (yes, people who hunt whales) have taken over the toy-making operation.  As a result, all the toys are the same as all other toys of their kind, all dolls have one pony tail, not some with braids & some with bangs  & so forth, so that an assembly line can be used.  Santa's labor force, which consisted primarily of people who were too sick or too old to work conventional jobs are now being forced to work the long o ours they couldn't before.  These & other decisions, as well as the new board always losing the daily snow ball fight to exactly the same military maneuver make it clear:  these men are just not cut out for this life.  In fact, they are going to run a small but very successful old family operation into the ground with their greed. 

Well, I don't want to give too much away, but I can tell you the cows learn to ski & the cat may or may not have taken up trapeze work (he lies, so it can be hard to be sure).  & Freddy the pig does start wearing clothes, eating at a table, sleeping in a bed, etc. but does not...well I don't want to ruin anything.   It turns out you can embrace some changes & still maintain your principles. 

& just in case anyone gets the idea Brooks was trying to water down/wash away the impact of Animal Farm, the first book in the series was published almost 20 years earlier.  Do yourself a favor & read the first two Freddy books instead.  Your local library probably has several copies.

1 comment:

  1. Four legs bad, two legs good?

    I'm intrigued. I have not heard of Freddie.