Freddy the Politician
- Narrated by: John McDonough
- Length: 5 hrs and 25 mins
- Unabridged Audiobook
- Release date: 09-24-09
- Language: English
- Publisher: Recorded Books
Regular price: $20.99
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jefferson on 06-30-18
When Animals Decide to Take Responsibility
The Bean farm animals, including the cat Jinx, the dog Georgie, the cow Mrs. Wiggins, a spider couple called the Webbs, four mice called Eek, Quick, Eeny, and Cousin Augustus, and the "brilliant but erratic" Freddy the Pig, decide that the best way to prove to Mr. Bean that they are capable of taking responsibility and running the farm so that he and Mrs. Bean may vacation in Europe is to start both a bank and a republic. Because they know nearly nothing about money or politics, complications quickly arise. Luckily, it seems at first, they are assisted in their endeavors by John Quincy, a woodpecker blown in to their upstate New York farm on a strong wind from the nation's capital, and by his father Grover and son X.
John Quincy's family lives in a tree at the White House, and hence name the male children after US presidents (X has to wait for a new one to be elected because all the former presidents' names have been used). Well-versed in DC society and politics, the woodpeckers feel superior to the backwater Bean farm animals of New York State, though they decide to stay for the tender and tasty bugs in the trees there. And soon enough they are scheming to take over the First Animal Bank and the First Animal Republic, or FAR ("Woodpeckers always have a determined look"). Brooks uses the campaign for FAR president to satirize American elections, including rival political parties (the Bean animals' Farmers' Party vs. the woodpeckers' Equality Party), campaign speeches featuring impossible promises (Grover says he'll install revolving doors in the henhouse), voter population manipulation (when woodpeckers invite flocks of birds to stay in the woods around the farm during the election, Freddy and company get field mice and other small animals to stay on the farm), election prediction (on the eve of the vote Freddy calculates a favorable result and writes a newspaper article celebrating his hoped for victory of Mrs. Wiggins), election fraud (the vote counting scene is priceless). It's all entertaining and funny.
Mrs. Wiggins laughs off the notion that "A cow's place is in the home" and runs for president. She fashions the FAR flag from a pair of Mr. Bean's old overalls, nightshirt, and underwear, and its resemblance to the Star-Spangled Banner makes me suspect Brooks of satirizing flags and patriotism. Freddy, who is "not very warlike," says, "Personally, I can't imagine going into battle under any kind of a flag." It's interesting to note that Brooks' book preceded Orwell's Animal Farm (1945), especially when Grover becomes "Imperial Grover," using a clockwork boy, heron and hawk bodyguards, and an obedient army of animals to start annexing neighboring farms so as to build an animal empire nested inside the USA. Published two years before America would enter World War II, Brooks' novel is a pacifist book, espousing ideas like, "Let us give up this dream of empire and cultivate the arts of peace." Mrs. Wiggins would be the best president because, as she tells the animals, "The thing I'd like you to do best is to just go on doing the things you want to do."
Mrs. Wiggins' other virtue is her sense of humor. When she disrupts Grover's demagoguery by laughing, he scolds, "Laughter is a destructive element. It has no place in a government." But of course Brooks means precisely the opposite, because like his other Freddy books, this one celebrates "the power of laughter." The humor takes many forms. In addition to political and cultural satire, Brooks indulges in slapstick (as when Freddy jumps on a bicycle and flies off downhill while forgetting how to use the brakes), plays with language (as when Jinx asks John Quincy, "Are you trying to tell me you don't know where the state of New York is?" and the woodpecker replies, "I'm not trying to tell you. I am telling you"), parodies diaries (as when a nosy neighbor records the strange happenings in the house of the town banker Mr. Wheezer), and writes farcical comedies of manners (as when Freddy disguises himself as an Irish woman and flirts with a snoopy detective called Jason Binks). Brooks writes amusingly authoritative yet whimsical statements on animal behavior, like "Spiders are very talkative, but few people know it, for they have to get almost in your ear to make themselves heard, and they don't like to do it much because they know it tickles." And his dry asides are fun, as when Freddy takes a dislike to Jason Binks: "When a pig has a face like a pig's, it's only natural. But when a man has a face like a pig's, there's something wrong somewhere."
Like Brooks' other Freddy books, this one's comedy has a core of serious life wisdom:
--"Most brave people are like Jinx. They're brave because they're afraid to act scared."
--"But he's afraid of me or he wouldn't call me names. That's what people do when they're scared."
--"Maybe he can't give it to them. . . but he's promised, and that's what counts in elections."
Kurt Wiese's realistic and humorous monochrome illustrations add much to the physical book, but John McDonaugh adds much to the audiobook, too. His voice is husky and moist, and he appealingly reads absurd events with gravitas and serious ones with humor. He does a great Grover (Southern stuffed shirt), Mrs. Wiggins (humorous leader), Freddy (multi-faceted and poetic trickster), Simon (sneery and schemy rat), Jinx (feckless and funny cat), and so on.
Brooks doesn't write down to kids, using plenty of difficult and savory words like balderdash, ribald, and velocipede. Indeed, I bet that kids miss much if not most of his humor. When I was a boy, I read the Freddy the Pig books as interesting adventures, while now I'm an adult, I read them smiling and chuckling. I am glad to have recently rediscovered the Freddy books after 45 years. People who like Charlotte's Web and Animal Farm and enjoy laughing would probably enjoy Freddy the Politician.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Ron on 10-09-10
It's all in the narrator!
When I was around 11-12 years of age I used to trek to my local library a couple miles away,rain or shine,or blizzard(common in Ottawa,Canada!) One day the librarian asked me,'Do you read anything else but FREDDY stories?'(I always had the max. four hard-covers allowed ready to be checked out!) They were that good then,and listening to JOHN McDONNOUGH read them now is GOLDEN! I can't think of anyone else who could have been selected for FREDDYs' adventures coming close to Mr. McDonnoughs' fantastic work! His Freddy is marvelous;his devil may care,prankster,Jinx the Cat maybe even better! From Mr. Beans' drawl,to Hank the old white horses' ponderous,low key musings,he does them all superly! They take me back to being twelve again,and Brooks' humour makes me chuckle out loud many times through a listen. They are a dream come true for Freddy fans. Highly recommended. Politian;Dragon;Spaceship;Ignormus,they are all superb,because of John McDonnough! - Ron L. PS-Can someone persuade him to do my fave:'Freddy Goes Camping',some day!?!