Friday, October 28, 2022

Walter R. Brooks, Freddy and Simon the Dictator (1956)

Aside from one passing reference to that time they tried to go to Mars, there is no mention here of the science-fiction stuff.  Men from Mars?  Never heard of 'em! 

So SOMEONE is riling up the animals against their human overlords.  The book tries a bit to create suspense over who, but...come on, man.  That title.  Simon is aided in his efforts by Herb Garble, the most-recurring villain in the series, who keeps trying to ship Freddy to his uncle's slaughterhouse in Montana.  Anyway, a lot of animals, wild and domestic, DO rise up against humans.  Can the loyalists stop them?  What do you think?  There's also a parallel plot where Mr. Camphor is being convinced against his better judgment to run for governor of New York.

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Monday, October 24, 2022

Walter R. Brooks, Freddy and the Baseball Team from Mars (1955)

That's right: the baseball team.  From Mars.  Fair or not, it's impossible not to see that title and think, Walter, you have officially run out of ideas.  I want to first draw your attention to that cover, which I do like: see Freddy, there, in glasses and a false beard?  That's him in disguise—a disguise that flawlessly fools everyone throughout the novel.  I've noted on more than one occasion that one trope of Disney comics is the terrible disguise that nonetheless works perfectly.  Whatever Brooks may think of comics, he's getting in on a little of that action!

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Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Walter R. Brooks, Freddy and the Men from Mars (1954)

This one is only related to Freddy and the Space Ship in a very loose way: Uncle Ben's space ship IS a thing, but it doesn't play much of a role in the proceedings; you could fairly easily lose it and just pretend that the previous book never happened.  The presence of men from Mars is kind of incidental.  So Herb Garble—the villain of Freddy and the Bean Home News and other books—has found some Martians!  They're on display at Mr. Boomschmidt's circus.  Only, as it turns out, not.  It's actually just Simon and some of his gang disguised as Martians (that's them on the cover; the real Martians are more spider-like).  But what's this?  Then REAL Martians land, conveniently enough!  Don't worry; they're friendly.  But Freddy & Co still have to deal with the rats and Garble.  Also, they've kidnapped two of Charles' and Henrietta's children, Chiquita and, uh, Little Broiler.  They're worried about them being eaten, but as far as the latter goes, nominative determinism, people!  You might as well have named him McNugget.  Also, I believe this is the first we've ever heard of the two of them having a son.  I think the idea previously was that it was all daughters, leaving Charles figuratively and literally henpecked.

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Friday, October 14, 2022

Walter R. Brooks, The Collected Poems of Freddy the Pig (1953)

So, before we continue, we should at least briefly note this: another one that I definitely just read for the first time!  What is it?  Well...what it says, more or less.  This includes most—though definitely not all—of the poems that have appeared throughout the series, as well as a few extras.  I certainly don't have an encyclopedic memory of all the verse throughout, but I did note a few omissions: it doesn't include the poem at the end of Freddy Plays Football (“Blackbeard the Tush-villain/had a wife and two chillun”), or the poem that the Horribles sing to Arthur the cat near the end of Freddy Rides Again, or all but a small excerpt of the play-in-verse at the end of Freddy's Cousin Weedly (also nothing from Freddy and the Space Ship, but that's probably just because the two books were in preparation simultaneously).  My impression is that possibly poems were left out that, it was felt, required too much context from the relevant novels to understand  Perhaps!  I think that is a poor excuse, however.  It would be a pretty darn slim volume anyway; might as well go for broke.  There are many new illustrations from Wiese; due to the volume he was required to produce and/or to the fact that this is a different sort of project from the novels, they tend to be a lot simpler than those; more brief line doodles than anything else.  Despite and/or because of this, they have their own breezy charm.

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Monday, October 10, 2022

Walter R. Brooks, Freddy and the Space Ship (1953)

Well, we now reach the point that I was, if not dreading, at least vaguely unsettled about: the science fiction Freddy books.  When I was a little kid and my dad was reading the series to me, he always spoke very dismissively about them: a dumb gimmick introduced towards the series' end to no good end.  Still, such was our fandom that eventually he did read them to us, and I think I liked them fine.  Well, most of them, anyway.  I'm pretty sure that this one is the only one I had never read before now.  Not that I remember not having read it, but I do remember at some point in the past having assessed the series and realizing that this was the only one missing.  So take that for what you will!  I've read it now, anyway.  Clearly.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Walter R. Brooks, Freddy the Pilot (1952)

So the story is here that SOMEONE is trying to sabotage Mr. Boomschmidt's circus, by sending an airplane to shows to drop flour all over the audience and freak everyone out so they demand refunds.  That “someone” is one Watson P. Condiment, who wants to drive the circus out of business so that its star equestrienne, Mademoiselle Rose, will be forced by penury to marry him.  Naturally, Freddy himself decides to take to the skies to foil this plot.  And then in the end, Rose and Mr. Boomschmidt get married instead, so that's nice.

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