|Product dimensions:||4.60(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||9 - 14 Years|
About the Author
Walter R. Brookswas born in Rome, New York on January 9, 1886, and died in Roxbury, New York on August 17, 1958. Brooks attended the University of Rochester and, after graduation, worked for the American Red Cross and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. He became associate editor of Outlook in 1928 and subsequently was a staff writer for several magazines, including The New Yorker. The short stories he began writing at this time were published in The Saturday Evening Post, Atlantic Monthly, and Esquire. Brooks's short story "Ed Takes the Pledge" was the basis for the 1950s television series Mr. Ed, but his most lasting achievement is the Freddy the Pig series, which began in 1928 with To and Again (Freddy Goes to Florida). He subsequently wrote twenty-five more delightful books starring "that charming ingenious pig" (The New York Times), all of which are now available from The Overlook Press.
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.
Nicholas D. Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times since 2001, is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. He grew up on a sheep and cherry farm near Yamhill, Oregon, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College, and studied law at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship.
Read an Excerpt
Freddy the Politician
By Walter R. Brooks, Kurt Wiese
The Overlook PressCopyright © 1939 Walter R. Brooks
All rights reserved.
Jinx, the cat, was asleep on an old sofa cushion behind the stove in the kitchen. Jinx was very fond of the sofa cushion. Mrs. Bean, the farmer's wife, had made it for him out of a red satin dress she had had when she was a girl, and she had embroidered his name on it in blue worsted and there was a border of blue forget-me-nots around the edge. Robert, the collie, and Georgie, the little brown dog, slept on the other side of the stove, but had only pieces of carpet. And the four mice—Eek and Quik and Eeny and Cousin Augustus—who sometimes came into the kitchen to sleep in cold weather, had just an old cigar box of Mr. Bean's with some rags in it.
It was a raw blustery March night and the wind kept going round and round the house, trying the doors and rattling the windows to make sure that everything was locked up tight. It would rush away across the fields and everything would be quiet for a while, then pretty soon it would come rushing back as if it had forgotten something, and would rattle the doors and windows all over again.
After a while it found a loose shutter on the front parlor window and began banging it. It banged it and shook it and rattled it and tried to pull it off the hinges. And that seemed to excite the wind. It began to play with the house as a cat does with a ball. It would go way off and be very quiet for a while, creeping up slowly on the house, and then suddenly it would leap on it and shake it. Or it would go high up in the starlit sky and drop on the house with a bang. It roared down the chimney and blew under the doors so that the carpets rippled along the floor, and it slapped the windows and whistled through the keyholes. And at last Jinx woke up and said: "My goodness, can't we have a little peace and quiet around here?"
"Oh, I don't know," said Robert. "I kind of like to lie here all snug and warm and listen to the wind."
"There's always too much noise around here," said Jinx. "If it isn't one thing it's another. There, just listen to that."
There had come a lull in the wind and in it they could hear a faint little regular moan. It was Cousin Augustus snoring.
"Well, surely you don't mind that tonight, Jinx, with all this racket going on," said Georgie.
"Those darn mice!" said Jinx. "They can sleep through anything." He got up and stretched, and then reached out a paw and shut the cover of the cigar box with a smack.
At once there was a great squeaking and rustling in the box and then the mice came tumbling out. "Hey, Jinx! Robert!" they squeaked. "Who did that? Help! What's the matter?"
then the mice came tumbling out
Jinx just sat and laughed at them, but Robert said: "Go on back to bed, boys. That was just Jinx's idea of a joke." And then he stopped and listened for a second and said: "Psst! Here comes Mr. Bean."
The wind was rattlety-bang-banging away against the shutter and they couldn't hear Mr. Bean, but the back stairs began to get light as if somebody was coming with a candle. First they saw a large blue and yellow carpet slipper on the top step. And then another slipper jumped past it onto the step below. The slippers kept coming down like this and pretty soon they saw a long white nightshirt, and then a face which was mostly all whiskers with a nose sticking out of them and two sharp eyes looking over them, and then a white nightcap with a red tassel. And last of all they saw an arm that ended in a hand holding a lighted candle. And Mr. Bean was in the kitchen.
He went through the kitchen into the front parlor and they heard him put up the window and fasten the loose blind. Then he came back. The dogs thumped their tails on the floor, and Jinx got up and rubbed his left ear on Mr. Bean's leg. Mr. Bean looked at them.
"I suppose you animals would let that blind bang itself to pieces before you'd get up and fasten it," he said. "I go round tellin' all and sundry that my animals are the smartest animals in New York State, but I dunno. Seems to me if you was so all-fired smart you'd fix a little thing like that yourselves without waiting for me to do it. My gracious, if I can't count on you to see to a little thing like that, how could I go off to Europe all summer like Mrs. Bean wants me to, and leave you in charge of the farm? No, no; 'tain't to be thought of." And he stumped off upstairs again.
"Oh, dear," said Georgie, "I knew something like this would happen. Mrs. Bean has worked so hard to get him to promise to take her and the boys to Europe."
"I wish we had thought to fasten the old blind," said Jinx. "But, after all, it's a pretty small thing to put off the trip to Europe for."
"Well, I don't know," said Robert. "I don't believe any other farmer would ever go away and leave his farm in charge of a lot of animals for six months. It isn't that we can't look after things and keep the farm going all right. But animals aren't used to taking any responsibility. When we see something that ought to be done we usually wait for Mr. Bean to do something about it. Just like that blind."
"Well," said Jinx, "we can look after the farm all right. But will we? You know how it is when we're all responsible for seeing to something. Each one of us thinks: 'Oh, well, somebody else will look after that.' And then it never gets done. No, we've got to select one animal who will be responsible for everything."
"But there isn't any one animal who could do all the work on the farm," said Georgie.
"I don't mean he'd do all the work. But he'd see that it got done—tell all the others what to do. Well, like the President of the United States. He'd be the big boss."
"He'd be President of the Bean Farm," said Georgie. "Say, Jinx, why couldn't we elect a president? Have a regular election and everything?"
"Golly, that's a good idea!" said Jinx enthusiastically. "An election with torchlight processions and campaign speeches and everything! That would fix running the farm, all right. And we'd have a lot of fun too. We'll get hold of Freddy first thing in the morning and call a meeting and talk it over."
"There are a lot of things about running a farm that we don't know, though," said Robert. "There's money. What do any of us know about money?"
"I found a quarter once," said Georgie.
"What did you do with it?" asked Robert.
"I don't remember."
"There you are," said Jinx. "He doesn't remember. And yet you know what Mr. Bean said yesterday to Mrs. Bean about Adoniram? 'That boy,' he said, 'has got to learn to take care of money, or he'll never make a farmer.' Well, we won't be good farmers either if we don't learn."
"How do you take care of money?" Quik asked.
"Put it in the bank, silly," said Jinx.
"What for?" said Quik.
"Oh, how should I know?" said the cat crossly. "Anyway, what do you care, mouse? You haven't got any money."
"Is that so?" said Quik. "You'd be surprised how many pieces of money mice find back of baseboards and under floors and places."
"I suppose that's so," said Robert. "I wish there was some way we could show Mr. Bean we knew how to take care of money. That would make him feel better than anything about going away and leaving us to look after the farm."
"Perhaps we could start a bank," said Georgie.
"That's an idea," said the cat. "Gosh, you're full of ideas tonight, Georgie. If we were bankers, Mr. Bean wouldn't worry, I bet. I've often heard him say that the bankers were the backbone of the country."
"Yes, but how do you start a bank?" asked Eeny.
"Pooh! Nothing to it!" said the cat. "You just—well, you just open it. Big sign over the door—'BANK.' That's all."
"Oh," said Eeny. "So you call it a bank and then it's a bank, hey?"
"Oh," said Eeny again. "So then if I call you a big blowhard, what does that make you?"
"What!" yelled Jinx. "Why, you—" He made a dive for the cigar box, but the mice had sneaked away in the darkness, and in a pause in the wind he heard them giggling together under the floor. For a minute he didn't say anything. He couldn't see the two dogs. Cats can see better than other animals in the dark but they can't see when there isn't any light at all, and the kitchen was as dark as a bottom bureau drawer. He listened suspiciously, but the wind made so much noise again that he couldn't tell whether the dogs were laughing or not. After a minute he said: "Darned mice! I don't know why I put up with them."
"Well," said Robert, "if you will try to pretend that you know about things when you don't, you o must expect to be made fun of. The bank's a good idea, though. We might find out from Mr. Webb how to run it."
"Old Webb?" said Jinx. "What would a spider know about banking!"
"He used to live in a bank before he came out to the farm," said Robert. "Golly, listen to that wind!"
Indeed, the wind, after a short rest, was now more violent than ever. It wasn't playing any more. It seemed to have lost its temper completely, and it whacked and boomed like big guns, so that the whole house shook. Around and around the house it went, whooping and banging, and all at once there came a louder crash and the latch of the kitchen door gave way and the door flew open, letting in a gust of cold wind that swept through the kitchen, setting the window curtains flying and the pots and pans clattering.
The animals made a rush to push the door shut again. They threw their weight against it and shoved. Even the mice dug in their toes and heaved, for every little helps, even if it's only a four-mouse-power push. And when the wind slackened a little, they got the door shut. The dogs dragged up a chair and pushed and hauled until they had the back wedged under the doorknob. And then they all said: "Whee!" and lay down again.
And then a light began to glow in the backstairs doorway and Mr. Bean appeared again. He appeared in the same order as before—slippers, nightshirt, whiskers, nightcap, arm and candle. And he looked around for a minute and then said: "H'm. You showed some sense this time." And he gave Robert a friendly whack on the side and then disappeared again—candle, nightcap, whiskers, nightshirt, and last of all the slippers.
Well, that was high praise from Mr. Bean. He was fond of his animals, but he never paid them compliments.
"That makes up for forgetting the blind," said Robert. "I hope he'll think we're more responsible now. But what do you say we try to get a little sleep?"
It was quieter again now. They could hear the wind rushing farther and farther away into the distance, as if it had finally decided to abandon the attack against a house that was so well guarded and to hunt for another victim. The animals curled up in their beds and drew in their breaths to give a long comfortable sigh. And just at that minute from the far corner of the room there came a weak squawk.
Now, a squawk, no matter how faint, in a dark room in the middle of the night is pretty scary. If Jinx had been alone he would have walked right out of that kitchen—at least he would have started to walk, but he would probably have been running by the time he reached the door—and he would have gone down cellar and hid behind the cider barrel. But the other animals were there, and he had a reputation to keep up as a bold, free, fearless sort of fellow. So he said very sternly: "Come, come, what's this?" and went straight over to investigate. Most brave people are like Jinx. They're brave because they're afraid to act scared.
Jinx went over to the refrigerator and put his nose down under it and sniffed three little cat- sniffs. And behind him Robert and Georgie sniffed too—loud dog-sniffs. "Feathers!" said Jinx. "A bird," said Robert.
"Wind must have blown him in the door," said Georgie.
"Help!" said something under the refrigerator in a weak little squawk.
So Jinx reached under and caught a leg and pulled, and as soon as the bird was out he tried to stand up. But he was so exhausted that he fell over on his side.
"Take it easy, brother," said Jinx. "Over to the stove, boys, and get him warm. Careful, there. You take his legs, Georgie. That's the stuff."
"Let me handle him," said Robert, and he picked the bird up gently in his mouth and carried him over and put him in the warm cigar box.
"Oh, that wind!" murmured the bird.
"What's your name, bird?" Jinx asked. "You a stranger in these parts?"
"Let him alone," said Robert. "Let him rest. You can ask him questions in the morning."
"O.K.," said Jinx, and lay down again on his cushion. "Well, now maybe I can get some sleep."
The wind didn't come back again, and in a little while the only sounds in the kitchen were the faint moaning of the stranger in his sleep and the gentle snoring of Cousin Augustus, who, deprived of the cigar-box bed, had curled up to sleep with his three cousins between Robert's forepaws.CHAPTER 2
The animals had had a hard night, and when Mrs. Bean came down in the morning to get breakfast for Mr. Bean and the two boys they had adopted, Byram and Adoniram, they were still sound asleep.
Mrs. Bean was a short, plump little woman, with snapping black eyes and cheeks that really were like apples. You no more knew what she looked like without an apron than you knew what Mr. Bean looked like without his whiskers. The animals all loved her and she was very fond of them and was always fixing little extra surprises for their supper. And she even baked them a cake on their birthdays. Except for Mrs. Wogus, who didn't like cake, she baked a birthday apple pie. Mrs. Wogus was one of the cows.
As soon as Jinx woke up he yawned, and then without stopping to wash his face he crawled under the stove and looked in the cigar box. "Well, my goodness," he said, "I guess you're all right." For the bird was sitting up and preening his feathers. He was a handsome woodpecker with a red head and a black and white body.
"Thanks to you," said the bird politely. "And would you mind telling me where I am?"
"Why, you're in a cigar box under the stove in Mrs. Bean's kitchen," said Jinx.
"No, no, you misunderstand me," said the woodpecker. "I want to know what part of the country I am in. You see, I was coming north to spend the summer in our old family home in Washington when I was caught in that windstorm, and I am afraid it has blown me a long way off my course."
"I'll say it has," said the cat. "Why, you're up in the middle of New York State."
"New York State?" said the woodpecker. "Dear me, I was never very good at geography. Just where is New York State?"
"Hey, look," said Jinx. "Are you trying to tell me you don't know where New York State is?"
"I'm not trying to tell you, I am telling you," said the woodpecker. "It's not quite the same thing."
"Maybe it isn't," said the cat, who was beginning to get confused. "But I must say—"
But just then Mrs. Bean bent down and looked under the stove.
"What's going on under here?" she said. "Oh, it's you, Jinx. And—my land, a woodpecker! Well, you'd better go on outside. It's all right for you to entertain your friends in the house, but my kitchen's no place for a woodpecker. You know how Mr. Bean feels about birds in the house. He don't like 'em flying about. He's afraid they'll get in his whiskers. I dare say it's unreasonable of him, but there it is. Come, outside, both of you."
She held open the door and Jinx and the woodpecker went out, followed by the two dogs, who had waked up and had been listening with interest to the conversation.
"Do you really mean you don't know where New York State is?" asked Robert, when they were in the barnyard and the woodpecker had flown up onto the trunk of a big elm and begun drilling a hole in the bark to see if he could get a little breakfast.
"Certainly I mean it," he said. He gave a few taps with his bill, knocking off a bit of bark, then pulled out a small bug and ate it. "H'm," he said, "very tender. Very tasty. In Washington, you see," he went on, "we really can't keep track of all the little unimportant places out on the edge of such a big country."
"Oh, is that so!" said Jinx. "Seems to me you talk pretty big for a woodpecker. I suppose you're somebody pretty important down in Washington. I suppose we ought to know who you are."
Excerpted from Freddy the Politician by Walter R. Brooks, Kurt Wiese. Copyright © 1939 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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What People are Saying About This
"The American versions of the Pooh Books or The Wind in the Willows."
-The New York Times
"Freddy is blessed with courage, wit, agility and a Sherlock Holmes-like capacity for detective work."