Category Archives: Books


I never found a hardcover edition of the ninth book in the Freddy series, but this 1986 trade paperback works fine, the inside pages are from the original printing. I don’t care for the cover design and art, but you can’t have everything.

This is a fun story about Freddy, the Bean farm duck sisters Alice and Emma, and the adventurous spiders Mr. and Mrs. Webb in a runaway hot air balloon. The plot has a few elements that are a bit hard to swallow: that Mr. Golcher, the balloon owner, would send his balloon up with only talking animals aboard; and that when the gas release valve becomes stuck shut and Freddy has no way to get them down, the balloon balloon owner would then report his property stolen and also demand payment for it from Mr. Bean.

That aside, the balloon ride is entertaining, they meet an eagle on the way who has a little history with Freddy, and when they finally do get the balloon down, things become even more interesting. Freddy finds out he’s a wanted pig, and must use a disguise to get to his friends at the farm and Boomschmidt’s circus to help him out of his troubles, and some police officers are on his tail. Meanwhile, Alice and Emma discover their long-lost Uncle Wesley, who is not quite as brave and wise as they remember. The big finish has elephants in it, and another balloon ride.

Funny and clever, recommended.

Freddy and the Perilous Adventure by Walter R Brooks


Another fine mystery novel for young readers, this one is full of eccentric and flamboyant characters.

When Lucy Fayerweather’s father comes to take her away from summer camp early with a sad family story about why, Lucy knows he’s up to his usual tricks, and in this case taking her quickly before he has to pay anything. Sure enough, they’re soon with Lucy’s mother and her brother Bob, also pulled from his camp, and their baby sister Bitsy. Fabian Fayerweather’s new play has been canceled, Clara Fayerweather’s antique business has fallen apart, and the family is on the road fleeing from creditors, hoping to stay with Fabian’s sister Aunt Clara in the old family home in rural New England. She had been planning to marry her beau Eustace Wilkes, but he suddenly disappeared a few years ago. Lucy and Fabian’s brother Edward, who has some mental health issues, lives with her.

Aunt Lucy is delighted to welcome them, and the Fayerweathers soon settle in to country life, but Bob is on a private mission to find out what happened to the missing Eustace. Slowly he gathers clues while also enjoying the company of Edward, while Lucy finds friends in some neighbor girls. Another neighbor, Bradley Wilkes, the brother of Eustace, becomes the focus of tricks and torments from Bob and Edward, even while Bob begins to narrow down his search. Things come to a head when Edward blows up Bradley’s front porch, and Bradley makes plans to have him put in an asylum. Can Bob’s detective work save the day?

An excellent read full of warm hearts and sneaky con-artists as well as a cracking good mystery. Recommended.

Fayerweather Forecast by Florence Hightower


From the title, you might think this was a long book, but it’s a mere 112 pages because the stories are quite short, running from half a page to three pages. Most are more vignettes than stories. Dunsany had begun that way in his earliest story collections, but these are even shorter than the majority of those. It’s illustrated only by the photo of the author in his military uniform, the signature is printed. Perhaps Sidney Sime wasn’t available.

Here the Gods of Pegana are largely absent, though more universal gods like Time and Death are frequently present. Some stories take place in modern London, others in remote parts of the world, but only a small number in what we would recognize as the fantasy realms of Dunsany’s earlier books. The author still manages to paint an overall picture of lovely lost things and wry twists of fate. I can see readers of the time enjoying one or two tales after dinner with a brandy and cigar.

Not his most interesting book, but worth reading and recommended.

Fifty-One Tales by Lord Dunsany

Rereading: FREDDY AND THE IGNORMUS by Walter R. Brooks

The eighth book in Brooks’ series about the New York State farm owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bean and their talking animals has a theme, and that theme is conquering your fears.

The Big Woods are not far from the Bean farm, but few animals ever go there. It’s reported to be the home of a terrifying creature called The Ignormus, which no one has actually seen, but that makes the stories about it all the worse. Freddy the pig, the star of this series, decides he should face his fear and explore the Big Woods, but the terrifying white shape he sees there floating down from the trees toward him soon has him on the run. Meanwhile, a series of robberies of food and garden vegetables has Mr. Bean angry, and the animals vow to put a stop to it. Their old nemesis, Simon the rat, has been seen in the area, and he and his family are probably to blame, but how can Freddy and his pal Jinx the cat prove it? The answers must lie in the Big Woods, and new friends from the insect world may be able to help.

Great fun, as all these books are, as the series settles into its regular and familiar format with a threat that Freddy and his friends must overcome. Lots of humor and excitement. Recommended.

Freddy and the Ignormus by Walter R Brooks

Rereading: RED HORSE HILL by Stephen W. Meader

Illustrated by Lee Townsend

Meader wrote a long list of novels for children, many with historical settings, but also books like this that are more about character and setting than history. This was his fourth book published in 1930.

Bud Martin is living alone by his wits on the streets of Boston. His father had been a driver of a team of draft horses before he died, and Bud still has friends at Bull’s Head Stable where his father worked, but when he gets in trouble with the owner, Bud and his dog Tug hide on a freight train and set out into the country to see if they can find the New Hampshire home his mother talked about before she died. They land in Riverdale, a town name he vaguely recalls, but find more trouble there when Tug gets in a fight with a wealthy man’s dog. A farmer, John Mason, witnessed the fight, and defends the boy and his dog, taking them home with him. Before long Bud learns he’s related to John’s wife Sarah, and soon he’s found a new home at their farm, where his eagerness to help with chores and love of the animals, especially their elderly mare Betsy, make him welcome. When Betsy has a foal colt with a brick red coat, Bud names him Cedar, and they grow up on the farm together.

Harness racing is the sport of this time and place, and Bud is soon drawn into that world as well, enjoying the annual races in town, with an idea that Cedar might someday be part of them. Meanwhile, he makes a local friend, and their explorations take them to the abandoned homestead where Bud’s family once lived. There they find an unkempt and starving boy hiding, and soon they’re involved in another side of life in the country, one of human cruelty and stolen horses. When Cedar is stolen, Bud is determined to catch the thief and get his horse back, but how can he do it?

An exciting story with lots of plot but also fine characters. Recommended.

Red Horse Hill by Stephen W Meader