Rereading: FREDDY AND THE SPACE SHIP by Walter R. Brooks

The Bean farm in upstate New York is again a busy place. Mrs. Bean’s distant relative Mr. Bismuth and his wife and two children had moved into an abandoned house in the woods behind the farm, but they set fire to it, and are then invited to live with Mr. and Mrs. Bean. This is something Mrs. Bean felt obligated to do, but the Bismuths are soon eating everything the Beans put on the table, and taking over the house. Mr. Bismuth talks a good game, but is a liar and a thief as well, though proving it is hard, even for Freddy and his friends. Meanwhile, Mr. Bean’s brother, Uncle Ben, has a new project, he’s building a rocket ship in the back pasture and plans to fly it to Mars. The farm animals all want to go with him, but just three are chosen: Freddy, Jinx the cat, and Georgie the dog. Mrs. Peppercorn from town also insists on going. The space ship launches successfully, but goes off course in space, and when it lands, they seem to be in a burned-out landscape. Much humor is driven by the facts of where they really are, and Freddy and his friends must also figure out how to get rid of the Bismuths before they bankrupt the Beans.

This twentieth book in the Freddy series is where it kind of went off the rails for me. The characters and humor are as enjoyable as ever, but the science is to be laughed at, not with. The book was first published in 1953, when real space travel was not yet a fact, but by the time I read it ten years later, I was following real space travel, and already had a good grounding in the science involved from the science fiction novels for young readers by Robert Heinlein. Fortunately the space flight only takes up a few chapters, and the rest of the story is the usual entertaining work of Brooks, where Freddy and friends must outsmart Mr. Bismuth. Recommended.

Freddy and the Space Ship by Walter R Brooks

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