Freddy and the Ignormus

Freddy and the Ignormus

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by Walter R. Brooks, John McDonough

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From 1927 to 1958, Walter R. Brooks wrote 26 books starring one of the great characters in American children's literature: Freddy the Pig. The Freddy books, widely beloved as classics and deemed the American equivalent of the Pooh stories, are a remarkable achievement in children's literature.
Since their original publication, the complete series has never been… See more details below


From 1927 to 1958, Walter R. Brooks wrote 26 books starring one of the great characters in American children's literature: Freddy the Pig. The Freddy books, widely beloved as classics and deemed the American equivalent of the Pooh stories, are a remarkable achievement in children's literature.
Since their original publication, the complete series has never been available; librarians across the country report to the Friends of Freddy, the international fan club, an ever increasing demand for their precious wellworn copies; one librarian has resorted to photocopying the books and binding them with hockey-stick tape! Overlook has begun a program to put back in print the entire Freddy series.
Freddy is Everypig -- he over sleeps, overeats, daydreams, and writes poetry. He's even a little bit lazy. And when he's scared, his tail uncurls. He is by turns a cowboy, explorer, politician, publisher, poet, magician, banker, campaign manager, pilot, detective. Whatever the situation may call for, Freddy always rises to the occasion!

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
The denizens of the Bean farmyard...demonstrate what is best and worst in the human spirit not by aping humanity's foolish fads but by being sweetly themselves.
Nicholas Kristof - The New York Times
“Funny, beautifully written gems.”
“Freddy is blessed with courage, wit, agility and a Sherlock Holmes-like capacity for detective work.”

Product Details

Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date:
Freddy the Pig Series
Edition description:
Age Range:
10 Years

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Freddy and the Ignormus

By Walter R. Brooks, Kurt Wiese

The Overlook Press

Copyright © 1941 Walter R. Brooks
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-9216-9


If you went up the lane back of Mr. Bean's barn, you came to a little bridge that crossed a brook. And if you turned left and followed the brook upstream you came to the pond where Alice and Emma, the two ducks, lived, and then you went through a pasture and along beside the woods, and then you went right up into the woods themselves where everything was dim and cool, with only the chuckle of the running water and the occasional whistle of a pewee to break the stillness. And in a few minutes you came to a little pool. On one side it was steep and rocky and the trees wriggled their roots right down over the rocks into the water. But on the other side a smooth grassy bank sloped down to the water. Most days if you went up there you wouldn't find anybody but a frog, named Theodore, who lived there. But if you went up there on a good hot summer day, you would most likely find Freddy, the pig, reclining on the grassy bank, engaged in the composition of poetry.

If you are going to write poetry, you need two things. You need quiet and you need coolness. You can't have a lot of people talking to you, and you can't be all hot and sticky. Of course you also need paper and pencil. So Freddy always took these along, and he would lie on the bank and write a little, and then think a long time, and then write a little more. Sometimes he would do so much thinking and so little writing that Theodore thought he was asleep. But Freddy said no, he was just thinking very hard.

"But you don't snore when you're thinking," said Theodore.

"Sometimes I do," said Freddy. "Sometimes I do. When I'm thinking extremely hard, I snore like anything."

Theodore was very polite and so he didn't say any more.

Well one day Freddy was sitting by the pool trying to write a poem about ants. The poem was to be part of a book for animals—probably the first book for animals ever written. Of course most animals can't read, and so this was to be an alphabet book, to teach them their letters. At first he had planned to have the first chapter written with words that begin with A, and the next chapter to have nothing but words that begin with B, and so on. But he found that was too hard, so he decided to write just a sentence with all the words beginning with the same letter, and then write a poem about it. He had his first sentence: Ants Are Awfully Aggravating. And now he was thinking up the poem.

I guess he wasn't thinking very hard because he had his eyes open And pretty soon he saw something small and white come bounding down the path towards him. It looked almost like a tennis ball. But as it came closer he saw it was a rabbit.

"Here, here!" Freddy called irritably. "What's all the fuss about?"

The rabbit stopped short, gave a gasp, and then ran up to him.

"Oh, Mr. Freddy," he panted. "I—I'm so scared!"

There were a great many rabbits on the Bean farm, and when Freddy had been in the detective business he had hired them to investigate crimes and keep watch of suspicious characters and so on. He was at that time probably the largest rabbit employer in New York State. Most of them didn't have any names, and he had numbered them so that he could keep track of them.

"Well, well," said Freddy. "Let's see, now. You're Rabbit Number Twenty-One, aren't you? Yes, I remember. You helped me in several cases. Well, what are you scared of?"

So Number Twenty-One told him that he had been up in the Big Woods with his brother looking for watercress, of which rabbits are very fond. And something had scared him. He wasn't very clear about what it was, but that didn't surprise Freddy much. People who are scared are hardly ever very clear about what scared them. Freddy told Number Twenty-One that. "If you'd seen what it was that scared you," he said, "you probably wouldn't be scared any more. Because the more you know about a thing, the less scary it is. And if you know all about it, you find it isn't anything to be scared of at all. I suppose," he said, "you heard something rustling in the underbrush."

"Something rustled," said the rabbit, "and made a funny noise. And it followed us."

"Probably the wind," said Freddy. "Or a mouse. And I suppose your aunt has told you that you mustn't ever go into the Big Woods?"

"Yes," said the rabbit. "She says there's something there that eats rabbits. She says our great- grandfather went into the Big Woods once and was never heard of again. I guess we never paid much attention to what she said; we thought it was just a story she made up so we wouldn't go up there and get lost. But, my goodness, we'll never go there again."

"Well," said Freddy, "I don't know about your great-grandfather; he was before my time. But I do think it is very wrong of your aunt to try to frighten you with stories like that. Because there really isn't anything different about the Big Woods than there is about these woods we're in. There's a story about the Big Woods, of course. Nobody knows who they belong to now, but a long time ago they belonged to a man named Grimby. Mr. Grimby didn't like animals, and he wasn't very kind to them. He used to holler at animals and throw stones at them. Well, that went on for a long time, and all the birds and animals moved out of the Big Woods, and none of the farm animals ever went there.

"By and by Mr. Grimby moved away. But the animals thought he might come back, and so they still kept away from the woods. Of course he never did come back, and his old house, in the middle of the woods, is all falling to pieces. Lots of the animals even forgot why nobody went to the woods, and they began to make up stories to explain it. And if you listen to those stories, you'll get the idea that the Big Woods are a lot more dangerous than they were even when Mr. Grimby lived there. You'd think to hear some of these animals talk that there were lions and tigers and flying rhinoceroses up there."

"Have you ever been up to the Big Woods, Mr. Freddy?" Number Twenty-One asked.

"Why, yes," said Freddy, "I've been—well not exactly in the Big Woods, you understand, but I've been by there. And never saw nor heard a thing, not a thing. Nothing to be afraid of at all."

"I wouldn't be afraid to go up there with you," said the rabbit, "but when I'm alone—"

"When you're alone," said Freddy firmly, "and you hear or see something that scares you, the thing to do is to walk right up and find out what it is. Then see it's just a shadow, or a mouse, or a piece of paper fluttering in the wind, and you aren't scared any more."

"You're awfully brave, Mr. Freddy," said Twenty-One admiringly.

"Pooh!" said Freddy. "No, I'm not. No braver than any other pig. But that's just common sense."

"I suppose it is," said the rabbit. "But—oh, dear—I wish you'd walk up to the Big Woods with me, so I could see how it works. If I could see how you do it just once, why maybe the next time, when I'm alone, I'd be all right."

But Freddy said no, he was much too busy. "I've got this poem to finish today. You see, Twenty- One," he said importantly, "I'm writing a Book." He said it like that, with a capital letter, and I don't know that you can blame him, for there are very few books in the world the authors of which are pigs.

So Twenty-One thanked him for his advice and hopped off home, and Freddy was just settling down to work again when Theodore crawled out on the bank.

Theodore was a hermit. He liked to be alone, and he was perfectly happy living all by himself in the pool in the woods. He had a fine bass voice and sometimes when the animals on the Bean farm were giving an entertainment they would ask him to sing. But he always refused. He said he'd be so nervous if he got up in front of all those animals that he wouldn't be able to sing a note. He liked to sing when he was all alone in the pool, the way some people like to sing in the bathtub. And on still nights his voice could be heard booming out over the countryside, and the animals would gather in the barnyard to listen. Even Charles, the rooster, who rather fancied himself as a singer, said that Theodore had one of the finest voices he had ever heard.

Theodore was handsome for a frog. At least, other frogs said he was, though as Mrs. Wiggins, the cow, said, he could be a whole lot handsomer than the whole frog tribe and still be pretty near the homeliest critter under the sun. And after all if your face is green, and you have a huge mouth, and bulging eyes, and nothing much in the way of a nose, you have to admit yourself that you're pretty homely. But Theodore had something better than good looks; he had style. His skin was bright green with black markings and fitted him perfectly, and when he jumped or swam he was so strong and graceful that you just had to watch him, and you forgot all about his homeliness.

"Hi, F-Freddy," said Theodore. "I hope you'll exc-cuse me, b-b-but I was just under the b-bank and c-c-couldn't help hearing you. B-but why didn't you go up to the bub-bub, I mean Big Woods with the poor little chap?" Theodore stammered a good deal. But the funny thing was that when he sang, he never stammered at all.

"Good gracious!" said Freddy. "If I had to go take care of every rabbit that got scared on this farm, I'd never get anything done. Do you realize how many rabbits get scared every day on a place this size? Anyway, Twenty-One is old enough to un-scare himself without my help."

"Mum, maybe that's true," said Theodore, "but I kind of f-figured maybe you thought if you went up there you'd have to un-scare yourself as well as him."

"Pooh!" said Freddy. "What of? There's nothing there."

"Well, t-that's just what you said he was scared of—nothing. And I thought m-maybe you'd be scared of it too. Let's go up to the Big Woods, Freddy. I've been hearing stories about it ever since I was a tut-tut, I mean tadpole, but I've never been near the place. I bet you haven't either."

"No," said Freddy, "and don't want to."

"I c-can't understand you, Freddy," said Theodore. "A great t-traveler like you that's been to Florida and the North Pole and all those places. And here's a place only a mile away you've never been to. You weren't afraid to g-go to F-Florida—"

"I'm not afraid, I tell you," said Freddy. "I just can't take the time. Here's my book only part done—"

"Part done! "exclaimed Theodore. "You've been working on it a week, and all you've got is 'Ants Are Awfully Aggravating.' Four words! If you take today off you'll only m-miss writing about half of one word."

"That just isn't so," said the pig crossly. "You don't understand about writing poetry, Theodore. You have to think out an awful lot in your head before you put anything down on paper. For instance, I've already got the first line of the ant poem. 'The busy ant works hard all day.' Now I've got to get a rhyme for 'day'."

"Stay, hay, play—that isn't so hard," said the frog. "Look, if I give you a second line will you walk up to the Big Woods?"

"But you're not a poet," said Freddy. "How could you give me a second line?"

"The busy ant works hard all day," said Theodore, "and never stops to rest or p-play. There's your second line. I may not be a pup-pup-pup, I mean poet, but I can write poetry."

"Why, that's not bad," said Freddy. "Not bad at all."

"B-bad!" exclaimed the frog.

"Well, I mean—you could learn to write poetry all right. In time, of course. Yes, I think you might learn."

"Oh, d-don't b-be so high and m-m-mighty," said Theodore disgustedly. He always stuttered worse when he was excited. "Just because I'm a f-f-fuff-f—"

"Fool?" suggested Freddy helpfully.

"No!" shouted Theodore. "I mean, fuf-fuf—Oh, gosh, what's the use!" And he turned around and dove into the pool.

"Well, dear me," said Freddy. He looked at the widening circle of ripples where Theodore had disappeared. "It was really a good enough line, at that. I shouldn't have kidded him. And I suppose after all, I could have gone up to the Big Woods with him. I would sort of like to see them."

"OK," said Theodore, hopping out on the bank again. "Let's g-go."

Freddy stared. "I thought you were in the water."

"No, I swum up under the b-bank again. You talk to yourself a lot, Freddy. I thought you'd pup-pup, I mean probably make some remarks."

"Oh, all right," said the pig resignedly. He tucked his paper and pencil under a stone, and they set out.


If you follow along up the brook that runs through Mr. Bean's woods, pretty soon you come to a dirt road that is the boundary of the Bean property. The Big Woods are really a continuation of the Bean Woods on the other side of the road. But as soon as you cross the road into them you feel a difference. No thrushes or pewees sing in the Big Woods; there are none of the rustlings and patterings that tell you of little animals going about their daily business. Except for the chatter of the brook, everything is very still.

Freddy and Theodore went more and more slowly as they approached the road. Freddy's jog trot slowed to a walk, and Theodore's long jumps became short hops that even the smallest grasshopper would have been ashamed of. They crossed the road. And under the shadow of the trees on the other side they stopped.

"Well, this is The Big Woods," said Theodore.

"The Big Woods," said Freddy, looking around. "The Big Woods. Well, well." And after a minute he said: "I don't know how you feel, but I'm sort of tired. Long walk, hot day, and so on. I think I'll rest a little." And he sat down at the edge of the road.

Theodore sat down beside him, and they talked for a little while about the weather, and politics, and the coming-out party Charles, the rooster, had given for his youngest daughter, and about everything but the Big Woods. And then Freddy got up.

"Well," he said, "shall we go back now?"

"Go back!" said the frog. "Why, we haven't been anywhere yet."

"We've been to the Big Woods," said Freddy; "And that's where we said we were going."

"We've been to them, but we haven't been in them," said Theodore. "You couldn't say you'd been to a show if you just went up and looked at the outside of the theatre, could you? Look, Freddy, we ought to explore 'em as long as we're here. You're so bub-bub, I mean brave, I thought you'd plunge right into their very depths."

Freddy shook his head. "I don't pretend to be brave," he said modestly.

"Well, you're not a c-coward, are you?"

"Why no; I don't think I'm exactly a coward, Theodore."

"You've got to be either one thing or the other," said the frog. "If you're not brave, you're a coward, but if you're not a coward, then you're brave. You can't be both."

"OK, then I'm brave," said Freddy. "And where does that get us?"

"It ought to g-get us into the woods," replied Theodore.

"See here," said Freddy. "Let's just admit that we aren't either of us very brave, and go on back to the pool and be comfortable. Eh?"

But Theodore said no. "I'm not going to come all the way up here for nothing," he said. "I'm going to prove one thing anyway." He gathered his hind legs under him and made a long jump that carried him several yards into the woods. "I'm that much braver than you, Freddy."

Freddy got up. He looked into the dark shadows under the trees. "Oh, dear," he thought. And then he thought: "I can't let a frog get the best of me. I may be only a pig, but I've got some pride." And he marched into the woods.

Of course Theodore knew all about Freddy's career as a detective, and an explorer, and he had always thought of him as one of the most courageous animals alive. And when he discovered that he was just about as courageous himself, it went to his head and he took another jump. For he thought: "My goodness, if I can prove that I am braver than Freddy, I will get a big reputation and be invited to b-banquets and even maybe get my name in the pup-pup, I mean paper." (You will notice that he had got so used to hearing himself stutter that he even stuttered when he thought.)

But Freddy was not to be outdone. His reputation was at stake, and so he dashed after Theodore. And Theodore jumped again.

So pretty soon it became a race to see who could get farther into the Big Woods and prove himself the braver of the two. They tore on through bushes and over logs and stones and then all at once were stopped short by a thicket of briars and witch-hopple that it was impossible to push through. So they stood for a minute panting and looking at each other.

"My goodness, weren't we silly!" said Freddy.


Excerpted from Freddy and the Ignormus by Walter R. Brooks, Kurt Wiese. Copyright © 1941 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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