Rereading: THE STORY OF FREGINALD by Walter R. Brooks

This is the fourth book by Brooks about the talking animals of the Bean Farm, but only one of those animals is in it as a supporting character, and relatively briefly: Freddy the Pig. Most of the story revolves around a young bear who joins a traveling circus.

Freginald the bear cub began life with the name Louise, even though he was a boy bear, due parents who couldn’t agree on a name, and a verdict from a grumpy great-grandfather. He hated his girl name, and when he meets a lion sleeping in his woods, he starts a conversation. Leo, the lion, is part of the Boomschmidt circus, and he invites Louise to come meet his friend, Mr. Boomschmidt, who might take him on. That does happen, and the circus master wants him to be billed as Louise the Bear, even though Freginald hates that name, because it will attract the curious. When Mr. Boomschmidt finds out that Louise also writes poetry, that’s added to his resume, and the circus animals and staff agree to call him Freginald instead of Louise eventually.

As the circus travels north, Freginald gains new friends like another Louise, a baby elephant, and Eustace, a diving mouse. Freginald and Leo get captured by a group of animal thieves living in an abandoned farm they’ve taken over, and the whole circus has to come rescue them, leading to a few more animal recruits. When they near their regular performing area in New York State, another circus begins to follow them and steal their business. Freginald finds out some sinister things about the other circus master. Can another new friend, Freddy the detective pig, help him save the circus from financial ruin?

In the first three books, animals could talk to each other, but not to people. Brooks realized the difficulties of that in the third book, “Freddy the Detective,” where Freddy has a tough time telling anyone about the criminals he’s found. In this book, Brooks does a smart thing. He begins with new animals and humans that talk to each other as if it was completely normal, and by the time Freddy is introduced, having him also talk to humans seems normal too. The rest of the many books in the Freddy series kept that change. The Boomschmidt circus, and particularly Leo and Mr. Boomschmidt, became regular recurring characters in the series, another fine choice by Brooks, as they’re quite funny. Freginald himself appeared rarely, as he was a bit too similar to Freddy to be needed.

Like all the Freddy books, this is entertaining, and full of great characters and adventures. Recommended.

The Story of Freginald by Walter R Brooks

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