Freddy and Simon the Dictator

Our rating: ****

When a young rabbit talks back to Mr. Bean, Freddy and Jinx know something’s up. When they follow the clues to a rebellious meeting of animals bent on taking over New York, they realize something is terribly wrong. But Freddy is unable to do anything right away, since his old friend Mr. Camphor needs help getting out of a nomination for governor. Then when he gets back, Jinx has turned traitor! Freddy has his hands full as the revolution begins…

Freddy and Simon the Dictator could possibly be one of the funniest Freddy books ever written! In this day and age, the political satire is welcome and hilarious. As the comedy continues, the story warps into perhaps the most sinister plot Walter Brooks ever wrote for Freddy, but the light-hearted humor is still around. As is always the case with these books, the person reading aloud will have more fun than the child being read to.


Our rating: ***½

Sir Wilfried of Ivanhoe returns from France with his friend, King Richard, in the hopes of re-winning his father’s favor and securing the hand of the lovely Rowena. But danger is quick to follow him. Richard’s brother, John of Anjou, is scheming to rebel against Richard, and Ivanhoe soon finds himself embroiled in the feudal battles of merry England. Chases, escapes (some closer than others), plots, renegade knights, and a surprise appearance by Robin of Locksley give this book more than a dash of adventure.

Sounds good, right? But before you rush off and buy it, let me warn you. It has misplaced romance out the ears. One whole subplot is a knight trying to win a Jewess by fair means (at first), then foul. Unless you don’t consider kidnapping her and and letting her father almost be tortured foul . . . Nothing inappropriate actually happens, but it’s up to you whether you want to wade through all the long talks between them.

Now, on a happier note, there’s some rip-snorting adventure in here. Well-written, edge of your chair, “What’s going to happen next?” adventure. With enough comedy to keep things from getting too heavy. True, it’s written in the older style, but there are very few classics that aren’t, and it lends so much to the story.

Rainy Morning

Our rating: ****

One dreary morning, Mrs. Submarine lets the cat in because it looks miserable out in the rain. This begins a hilarious series of visitors taking shelter from the rain, including a wildebeest, the Submarines’ car, and Beethoven.

Here’s a great book that is just a lot fun. That’s it. Nothing profound, no “lesson” at the end. And not just for the kids. Daniel Pinkwater also embeds wholesome humor that will go over the head of the child and be caught by the owner of the lap they are sitting on. Definitely worthwhile for a good laugh.

Freddy and the Flying Saucer Plans

Our rating: ***½

Freddy the pig and Jinx the cat (along with their steeds, Bill the goat and Cy the pony) are all ready to go on a trip, when a call for help arrives from Uncle Ben. He has plans for a flying saucer, given to him by the Martians, but can’t begin work on a saucer because tons of spies are following him everywhere, trying to obtain the prized plans. It’s time for Freddy to step in and lend a hand, er, trotter.

Freddy is back! There is a fun plot twist, and tons of spies all fighting each other for the plans. An enjoyable new character, Samuel the mole, is introduced. I especially like the part with him at the end.


Our rating: *****

On his 21st birthday, Andos, our hero, received, along with certain legal rights, the keys to an old desk of his father’s, which he has longed to examine for quite some time. Upon opening the desk he meets a fairy lady who tells him that he will find his way into fairy land on the following morning. Her prediction proves correct, and Andos finds himself in the world of fairies, where he meets living trees, queer people, dangerous beings, and all sorts of adventures—at times beautiful, at times horrible—and learns not to get so caught up in pursuing the ideal that he forgets the good.

This book is a dream, in more ways than one. It is one of my favorites. A classic fairytale, but full of beautiful word pictures and great thoughts. And some nice poetry, too. It is very like a dream because it flows from one encounter to another, sometimes with reason, other times with seeming randomness, but always as a coherent whole. The only two drawbacks with the book are, first: there is quite a bit of romance. Andos seems to have trouble with controlling his eyes, and falls in “love” with several fay, and this “love” is presented as a high idea. Second: the after-life is presented as a happy, loving, “one-with-the-world-around-you” existence. Read this with discernment, separating the pretty from the true or false.