Back when we thought we were rich and we were spending money like the US Treasury (zing!), I belonged to several mail-order book clubs. For those of you who have never experienced book club membership, it's a convenience provided by book publishers when you want to waste your money like a loyal American, but your American fat-assedness makes you too lazy to actually go anywhere. In that case, they mail a catalog to you and you can spend your money without endangering your hard-fought sedentary lifestyle. Redneck fat-asses have Lillian Vernon, pack-rat fat-asses have Oriental Trading Company, and faux-intellectual fat-asses have mail order book clubs.
In one of my mailers I found a review of Freddy the Detective, which was billed as wholesome family reading from Days Gone By. We had one child at the time, and I made a note of the title and author for when she would be old enough to read. When I decided to get out of the book club, I wanted to cash out the club points I'd amassed, so we became the proud owners of Freddy the Detective. At the time all I knew was that the mailer editor had been paid to tell me that it was a good book and he'd managed not to tip his hand in his product description. Since then, I've learned a little more about Walter Brooks and his Freddy the Pig series. Brooks lived in New York, has been dead for over 50 years, and maintained a bit of a cottage industry producing Freddy books, reaching 26 in all.
Our kids enjoyed this book. There were plenty of silly parts that made them laugh out loud. Freddy is a pig who knows how to read, and after some recent exposure to Sherlock Holmes stories, decides to become a detective. He has several small cases throughout the book, while one larger case, involving rats who've come to live in the barn, spans the story. My daughter was especially interested in a bit of backstory relating how Freddy and his friends had gone on a journey north and come home with two orphan children. When we finished this book and I asked them if they liked it enough to read more, she said she would want to read the one that dealt with the expedition. Later that week I went to the library and checked out Freddy Goes to the North Pole, which she has been reading on her own since then. She just reported, however, that she's "sort of given up on it," because, "the Freddy books are better for you to read than for me." I take that to mean that the reading level is probably for kids 10 and above.
Rating: 5.5 out of 7 giant inflatable monkeys.