Freddy and the Baseball Team from Marsby Walter R. Brooks, Kurt Wiese (Illustrator)
In Freddy the Pilot, Freddy takes to the air to save Mr. Boorschmidt's Stupendous and Unexcelled Circus from the evil schemes of Watson P. Condiment, the comic-book tycoon. Soaring through the clouds may be scary for some, but for Freddy it's all in a day's work as he takes on Condiment's flying henchmen, a feud between the skunks and the rabbits, and even the U.S. Army!
- The Overlook Press
- Publication date:
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- Product dimensions:
- 7.76(w) x 5.08(h) x 0.70(d)
- Age Range:
- 8 - 12 Years
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Freddy and the Baseball Team from Mars
By Walter R. Brooks, Kurt Wiese
The Overlook PressCopyright © 1955 Walter R. Brooks
All rights reserved.
It had been a hard winter and a late one. In early March the duck pond on the Bean farm had been frozen solid for six weeks. Nearly every afternoon Mr. Bean, an accomplished skater, had spent an hour or two on the ice, swooping about in loops and figure eights, with the ends of his muffler flying in the air behind him. Some of the farm animals sat in the snow on the bank and watched, applauding the more difficult and graceful figures; others, who had skates of their own, attempted to match Mr. Bean's feats—sometimes with pretty funny results.
Most of the larger animals skated on all fours, with a pair of skates on their forefeet and another pair on their hind feet. They couldn't do any figure skating, of course, but they could whiz round and round the pond at high speed. There wasn't room for many of them at a time; and when Hank, the old white horse, started off, the smaller animals scrambled for safety. Luckily for them, Hank never stayed out very long, and of the three cows, only Mrs. Wiggins liked skating, so there was generally room for everybody.
Except, of course, when some of the circus animals came up from Centerboro. Mr. Boomschmidt's circus was wintering in Centerboro this year—the first year they had stayed in the North—and every day or so a few of them would be up with their skates. Most of them weren't very good, though, and Hannibal, the elephant, although he had skates with double runners because his ankles were weak, finally had to be asked not to go on the pond when there were others there, for if he fell, and a duck or a rabbit was under him, the results were quite serious.
One clear cold afternoon Freddy, the pig, started up to the duck pond, carrying his skates. The snow sparkled in the bright sun like millions of diamonds, and the ring of skates on ice and the shouts of the skaters came down pleasantly to him. When he reached the pond, he found nearly all the animals there. The ice was crowded, and the bank was lined with spectators. Freddy sat down between Henrietta, the hen, and her husband, Charles, the rooster, and started to put on his skates.
"What are you two doing up here?" he asked. "I thought you didn't like skating."
"We don't," Charles said. "But we have a date to go tobogganing with Mac, and we like to watch Mr. Bean, so we said for him to pick us up here."
Mac was a wildcat who lived up in the Big Woods. Many people would think it decidedly foolhardy for two chickens to make a date with a wildcat. But although the animals had at first been suspicious of Mac, they had come finally to trust in his good intentions. They could even joke about their former fears. And when Freddy said: "Well, it's nice to have known you, Charles," the rooster said with a grin: "Mac doesn't like chicken. I understand pork-and-beans is his dish."
Mr. Bean drifted by, skating backward. He took his pipe from his mouth and waved it at Freddy. "Want to waltz?" he called.
"Soon as I get my skates on," Freddy replied.
"He skates backward a lot," said Henrietta.
"He says he can manage his pipe better that way," Freddy explained. "Smoke doesn't get in his eyes."
"Can't see why he's never set those whiskers afire," Charles said. "All the years I've known him I've never seen him without that pipe, and my goodness, it's so short and his whiskers are so bushy sometimes you can't see the pipe at all; it looks like a brush fire."
"Maybe he's had 'em fireproofed or something," Freddy said. He got up and glided out onto the ice. He had on a red knitted cap with a tassel and an old sports coat of Mr. Bean's. This of course roused no comment, for it was his usual skating costume. The coat was not long enough to cover his tail, which curled out from under it. But today that tail was not, as usual, faintly pink with the cold. It had a little knitted sweater on, and the sweater was red, to match his cap.
A shout of laughter went up from the bank he had just left, and as he started to circle the pond, Jinx, the black cat, swung up beside him. Jinx, having a warm coat of his own fur, didn't need a skating costume, but he wore a red beret, for style. Like Freddy, he was a good skater and skated upright on his hind legs.
"Hi, pig," he said. "What's the matter with your tail—you sprain it?"
Freddy said: "My tail hasn't got fur on it, like yours. It gets cold. I knitted that tail-muff myself—Mrs. Bean showed me how. It makes a lot of difference, let me tell you."
"I should think you'd just let it freeze, and then break it off. You wouldn't have to bother trying to keep it warm ... hey, look out!" and he swung Freddy to one side as Mrs.
Wiggins, with all four skates in the air, came slithering across the ice, upsetting several rabbits who weren't quick enough in getting out of the way.
Freddy and Mr. Bean helped the cow up, but she was laughing so hard that she fell right down again. "Thanks," she said, "but you better just leave me here until I get my legs sorted out. My sakes, I was trying to cut a figure eight, but my front legs started on one loop and my hind legs started on the other, and I guess it's a mercy I fell down. If I'd kept on you'd never have got me untangled."
So they left her, and Freddy and Mr. Bean waltzed. To keep time, Mr. Bean sang what he said was the Blue Danube waltz. It wasn't a very pretty tune, for it went all on one note: "Tum, tum, tum, Tum, tum, tum,"—Mr. Bean wasn't a very good singer. And every time he said "Tum," a puff of smoke came out of the whiskers and swirled up Freddy's nose. He was too polite to say anything about it, but pretty soon he began to feel queer. "Guess I'll have to sit down," he said. "Getting dizzy."
He went over and collapsed on the bank, and Mr. Bean went out to the middle of the pond and began writing his name on the ice. Gradually all the animals stopped skating to watch. He made the final n, then said: "Now I'll make the period." And he swung his arms out wide and began spinning. He spun so fast that he was just a blur, and the sparks flew from his pipe and made a circle of fire around his head.
"Gosh, Freddy," Jinx said, "get a load of the human pinwheel!"
Freddy had been sitting with his eyes shut. He lifted his head and opened one eye, then shut it quickly and groaned. "Oh dear, does he have to do that?"
"Hey!" Jinx exclaimed. "I bet his whiskers are burning! Look, Freddy, they're ... oh no, they're all right. Golly, they must be made of asbestos!"
Freddy opened a cautious eye again. But Mr. Bean had stopped whirling. He was kneeling on one knee with both arms outspread, as the animals cheered his performance. Then slowly he took the pipe out of his mouth and tapped it on the ice. It was empty. The wind of his whirling had sucked every shred of burning tobacco out of the bowl.
Freddy now joined in the applause. He didn't feel so sick and dizzy now that Mr. Bean was standing still, but it still made him a little giddy to watch the others circling the pond. Most of them glided slowly along, but John, the fox, and Georgie, the little brown dog, were racing. They zipped in and out, bending low with their forepaws clasped behind them. Mr. Bean was now sitting on the bank. He was watching them, frowning a little.
"They hadn't ought to race when the pond's so crowded," said Henrietta. "I'd like to give that John a piece of my mind."
"Don't bankrupt yourself," said Jinx with a grin, and skated off before she could fly at him.
"Fresh cat!" said the hen indignantly. "Oh, look, Freddy! Now they've done it!"
Alice and Emma, the two ducks, had been skating sedately together at the end of the pond. They wore little roller skates which Mr. Bean's Uncle Ben had made for them. For their Uncle Wesley, who lived with them, felt that rollers were more ladylike. "And there is something masculine about regular ice skates, isn't there?" said Alice. "Uncle Wesley is so sensitive to these things!"
"Dear Uncle Wesley!" said Emma.
So they were skating along, wing and wing, and watching half a dozen rabbits who were playing snap-the-whip. The whip snapped just as the two racers came scooting around the end of the pond. Two rabbits were snapped off; one slid straight into John, who crashed over him; Georgie dodged the other and ran smack into the two ducks, upsetting them and sending them slithering across the ice, quacking indignantly, roller skates in the air.
"Georgie!" Mr. Bean got up. "Get off the ice!" He jerked a thumb down toward the farmhouse. "You too, fox." He spoke quietly, but the two went over to the bank, took off their skates, and trotted off. "Can't have that sort of thing," Mr. Bean said. He looked down at Freddy. "Care to waltz?" he asked, as he took out his tobacco pouch and started to refill his pipe.
"Oh," said Freddy weakly, "yes, I—I guess so."
Fortunately for him, a sudden burst of laughter from the other side of the pond drew Mr. Bean's attention. He skated over to where a crowd of animals was gathering around a strange little black creature about two feet high, who seemed to be showing them a white envelope. The creature had a round body and a pear-shaped head with long feelers on it. He had two spindly legs and four spindly arms and looked rather like a spider, except that he had three eyes, the middle one set between and above the other two.
"Why, it's old Two-clicks!" Freddy exclaimed, and skated quickly across toward him. For Two-clicks (that was what his name sounded like in his own language) was the leader of the five Martians who had come spinning down in their flying saucer last summer and landed in the Centerboro fairgrounds not far from the Bean farm. Mr. Boomschmidt's Stupendous and Unexcelled Circus was giving shows at the fairgrounds, and the Martians, after adventures which have been related elsewhere, had decided to stay on earth and join the circus.
"He's got a letter from Mr. Boom," Hank said as Freddy came up. "But it hasn't got a regular address on it; it just says 'Freddy is queer.'" He laughed, and all the others joined him. "'Freddy is queer,' hey?" they said. "Ain't it the truth! Freddy, old Boom's onto you at last."
"What are you talking about?" said the pig. "Hello, Two-clicks. What's all this about?" And then he repeated his greeting in Martian, for these strangers from another world had spent a lot of time on the farm, and he had learned to talk a little with them in their own language, a queer combination of chirps and clicks and squeaks.
Two-clicks held out the envelope. "That doesn't say 'Freddy is queer,' you dopes," the pig said. "It's addressed to 'Freddy, Esquire.' 'Esquire' is just a fancy way of saying 'Mister.'"
"Fancy nothing!" said Jinx. "It's a good plain way of saying what Mr. Boom thinks about you."
"Yeah, they're wise to you at last, pig," said Hank.
Freddy didn't answer. He was reading the letter. "Hey," he said, "listen to this! We've got to do something about this." And he read:
DEAR FRIEND FREDDY:
I hope this finds you as it leaves me, in good health and spirits. Although my goodness, my spirits aren't so good either. Because we are in trouble. Squeak-squeak, one of our Martians, has been kidnapped. At least he's disappeared, and his brothers—if they are his brothers—are awful upset about it. We called the police in, but of course the cops can't speak Martian, and so the other Martians couldn't tell them much. And anyway, the police chief says they're nothing but bugs, and he's got something better to do than hunt for a missing bug. So I got Two-clicks to take this note up to you in his flying saucer, and if you are not too busy would you please come down to town with him and help us find Squeaksqueak?
Your friend, ORESTES P. BOOMSCHMIDT
"Well, I guess I'd better go," said Freddy. "How'd you get here, Two-clicks?" And he repeated the question in Martian. It sounded like this: "Clickety-squeak chirp, chirp-chirp chickle, chickle click squeakity-click."
Two-click's answer sounded like somebody using a very old typewriter which badly needed oiling.
"H'm," said Freddy. "If I understand him, he came up in the flying saucer. Left it in the Big Woods. I wish you spoke more English, Two-clicks."
Two-clicks said: "Me ... speak ... Englick." He pointed to the pig. "Freddick, Detectick. Quick-quick."
"Sure, you speak it fine," said Mr. Bean. "Like a native." He made the fizzing sound that meant that he was laughing behind his whiskers. "Native of Bongo-Bongo, I guess." Then he turned to Freddy. "Well, you're the detective; go ahead and detect. Go pack your suitcase."CHAPTER 2
The winter headquarters of Boomschmidt's Stupendous & Unexcelled Circus was usually in Virginia, but this year, partly because the animals had so many friends in Centerboro, and partly because they had never had a chance to try any winter sports, they had voted to spend the winter in the North. Centerboro was of course only a few miles from the Bean farm, and the circus was encamped in the baseball park just outside the town. Mr. Boomschmidt and his wife, who was Mademoiselle Rose, the bareback rider, and his mother, who spent all her time knitting him fancy waistcoats that didn't fit, lived in a little house with a big picture window at the edge of the ball park. Here they could sit and look out through the window at the wagons where the animals lived, all drawn up in a circle; and they could watch the various performers practicing their acts, in preparation for the coming season.
All the performers in the big tent were animals except Mlle Rose and Mr. Hercules, Mr. Boomschmidt's brother, a huge man who looked just like Mr. Boomschmidt blown up to three times life size. Mr. Hercules did weight lifting and some juggling. He wasn't very bright. Old Mrs. Boomschmidt said she guessed all his brains had gone to muscles. "Takes after his father," she said. "He could lift a five-hundred-pound sack of gold coins with one hand, but he wouldn't have known what to do with it if he had."
It took the flying saucer only a few seconds to cover the four or five miles between the farm and Centerboro. Freddy had Two-clicks 18 bring it around up to the back door, where it hovered for a minute so that he could step from it right into the house, without having anybody but the Boomschmidts know that he'd come. Mr. Boomschmidt was delighted to see him, and kept patting him on the back and saying: "My goodness, it's good to see you, Freddy! My goodness gracious me, now we'll have Squeak-squeak back home in two shakes!" And Mlle Rose and old Mrs. Boomschmidt rushed out into the kitchen, from which came a rattle of crockery and a crashing of pots and pans, and pretty soon they came back with an enormous chocolate cake smothered in whipped cream, and a big pot of cocoa.
Mrs. Boomschmidt helped Freddy to cake. "We're very happy to have you here, Freddy," she said. "Very happy." And Freddy noticed that tears were running down her cheeks as she smiled at him.
"Now, now, Mother!" said Mr. Boomschmidt, and to Freddy he said: "Mother always cries when she's happy."
"My goodness," said Freddy, "but that doesn't leave you anything to do when you're unhappy, ma'am."
"Oh, I cry then, too," said Mrs. Boomschmidt, wiping her eyes.
Freddy shook his head. "But—but how does anybody know...." he began.
"They don't," said Mr. Boomschmidt.
Freddy gave it up. "Well, I'm glad you're happy today anyway, ma'am. And now, how about Squeak-squeak?"
There wasn't much to tell. At first, to keep them from being mobbed whenever they appeared in public, the Martians hadn't been allowed to go into town by themselves. But after the people had got used to them, they were free, like all the circus animals, to go where they pleased. In Centerboro, as in other communities where they were well known, the animals entered into the town's social life. They were invited everywhere; several of them had joined the Centerboro Country Club; Andrew, the hippopotamus, was a member of Rotary; and Leo, the lion, and two of the elephants had even taken up golf. It was not at all unusual to glance in a lighted window in the evening and see a tiger dining with the family, or Willy, the boa constrictor, taking a hand at the bridge table. And so the Martians, since they had nice manners, and in addition were curiosities from another planet, were made much of. Now that they could understand, and even speak a little English, they hardly dined at home one evening a week.
Excerpted from Freddy and the Baseball Team from Mars by Walter R. Brooks, Kurt Wiese. Copyright © 1955 Walter R. Brooks. Excerpted by permission of The Overlook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Walter R. Brooks (1886-1958) is the beloved author of 26 books about Freddy the Pig. He edited for magazines, including The New Yorker. In addition to the Freddy books, Brooks created the character of Mr. Ed the Talking Horse.
Kurt Wiese (1887-1974) illustrated over 300 children’s book and wrote and illustrated another 20 books. He received two Newbery Awards and two Caldecott Honor Book Awards.
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