Great Mysteries of the Freddy Book


As my reputation as someone with a slightly above-average familiarity with (not, mind you, admiration of) the Freddy series has spread through the Freddyite community, I have received more and more questions concerning details in the books. Several of these queries are actually somewhat interesting --i.e., the ones that involve inconsistencies, implausibilities, impossibilities, and imponderables--and I have been dumping them into a special file for some time now. I've had a little spare time lately, so I put some of them into the chart below for your perusal and delight.


Answers & Speculations

In Florida there are a number of pigs on the Bean farm. In Detective, Freddy's family is mentioned. Where did all these other pigs go? Given the presence of bacon and ham on the Bean dinner table, I think the answer might be rather obvious. It is possible, though, that they had been sold to the sheriff, because in Detective it is said that he owns "distant relatives" of Freddy.
What happened to Henrietta's eight sisters who were mentioned in Florida? I think that Mr. Brooks wanted to establish Charles as a "family man," which is certainly not the natural bent of a rooster in the presence of nine hens. Consequently, the sisters had to go, leaving only Henrietta to rule the roost.
What happened to Jock, the "wise old Scotch collie" who is Robert's older brother? He's on the farm in Florida, Detective, and Clockwork, and then he's never heard of again. I haven't the foggiest notion! Maybe he took up residence on a more interesting farm. Perhaps he passed away, though other than the horsefly Zero, no major or secondary character in the series actually dies. (Since children may be reading this page, I will not go into any of the more realistic scenarios involving bricks and farm ponds and farm dogs who outlive their usefulness.)
There was a horse named William who pulled Mr. Bean's buggy in Florida. Where'd he go? An "Uncle William" is mentioned in North Pole--he's Hank's uncle, "a wise old gray horse who lived over near Centerboro" and who "had once been in a circus." Are they the same horse? Could be. He might still be around in Politician, because two horses are members of the "Farmers' Party"--Hank would be one and the other unnamed one could be this "Uncle William."
How many children do Charles and Henrietta actually have? I guess that over the years the size of the brood would naturally change. Here are some hard numbers from the series and a brief statistical breakdown:


Number of Chicks

North Pole
15 (8 daughters and 7 sons)
17 (all daughters)
Rides Again
Men from Mars
Standard Deviation

How many brothers and sisters does Jinx have? In North Pole we are told that Jinx has "...[a] dozen brothers and sisters in the neighborhood." But in the same book it says later on that he has seven brothers and sisters. You tell me.
Who taught whom to read on the farm? In North Pole, we are told that Jinx taught Freddy to read; however, in Politician, Jinx tells John Quincy Adams that "...[Freddy's] the only animal on the farm that can read or write." In Ignormus, Jinx once again mentions Freddy as having "...taught a lot of animals on this farm [to write]." And then in Football it says that Freddy had learned to read and write when "quite young" and later taught most of the others on the farm.
Didn't Mrs. Wogus have a daughter Marietta? What happened to her? In North Pole she does, but she's never mentioned again. Perhaps she was rendered into veal cutlets or sold to a neighboring farmer.
How old are the Beans? and Mrs. Peppercorn? In North Pole, Mr. Bean is said to have farmed for 52 years, so it would be reasonable to infer that he's in his 60s in that book. However, later in Popinjay, Mr. Bean says he's been farming for 50 years. Furthermore, in Clockwork, Uncle Ben is introduced as a "smaller and older and hairier Mr. Bean," and then much later in Space Ship it says Uncle Ben is 47 years and 2 months old. Of course, all this makes no sense whatsoever. In Football, we learn that the real Aaron Doty, Mrs. Bean's older brother by 5 years, was two years old when the Spanish-American War began. As any semi-educated person knows, that would be in 1898. Aaron had left home, so the story goes, 30 years before when Mrs. Bean (then Martha Doty) was 11 and he 16. That makes him 46 at the time of Football and Mrs. Bean 41, a relatively young wife for Mr. Bean. (For Freddyite scholars, this also establishes the time setting of Football as 1942.) So, you tell me: how old are the Beans? As for Mrs. Peppercorn, who knows? In News she's already 90, and she's around for a goodly number of years after that.
Where did the characters Ella and Everett go? What about Byram and Adoniram? Well, Ella and Everett are around in North Pole, of course, and in Detective, but in Clockwork they're said to be abroad "for a year" with Mrs. Bean's sister. By Politician, they're never mentioned again. That's about it for those two. Regarding Byram and Adoniram, they disappear after their trip to Europe with the Beans in Politician. Later in Popinjay, Freddy dreams that Byram and Adoniram "were still living on the farm," but no explanation of their absence is given. They must have still been on the farm "two summers ago," because in Popinjay it says that that's when Mr. Bean had put up a diving board for them at the duck pond. Adoniram's trunks are still in the house, and he's spoken of in the present tense: "He's [Jimmy Witherspoon] ashamed of looking so poor, and he's proud. He won't take anything unless he can make some return for it. Mrs. Bean was just talking about him; she's got all those things of Adoniram's --books and clothes and games that he doesn't want anymore. And she said she'd like to give them to this boy." So where are the children? You got me!
Is Mr. Witherspoon rich or isn't he? In Politician he is described as an addict of the card game solitaire and this is why he "could not make his farm pay and why he hadn't been able to buy shoes for his horse Jerry." In Popinjay, Mrs. Church says that he has so much money he could "buy and sell me three times over," and he begins spending money to spruce up his son. But in Rides Again, he is so stingy he won't buy screens for his kitchen window although he's probably richer than the banker Margarine, because it states that Mrs. Church is almost as rich as Margarine. Then in Pilot, he's spending money again--his son Jimmy has had flying lessons. I guess Zenas is rich and intermittently stingy.
Where does Old Whibley live? Several locations, evidently. In Politician, his nest is high up in an old gnarled beech. In Weedly, he lives in a "big hollow maple that's to the right of the path, about halfway through the woods."
There's something wrong about the chronology of the revolving door in the hen house, isn't there? Grover promises Henrietta a revolving door, so there must not be one in Politician, but in Bean Home News, it says that Mr. Bean had already installed one (and an electric heater) in the henhouse after the animals had come back from the original Florida trip. Later in Men from Mars, Henrietta states that the door had been put in just "last year." You're right. There's something wrong. For even more details, check out E.N.'s detailed discussions below.
In Bean Home News, Centerboro is the "garden spot of Oneida County." That isn't right, is it? As far as I know, that's the only time Centerboro is set outside of Oteseraga County. For more information on places frequently mentioned in the Freddy series,  go to FAQ #22, a.k.a., the "Where Is...?" FAQ. The maps there should clear up any number of questions you may have about this or that place.
If Freddy and the other Bean animals are held in such high regard by the inhabitants of Centerboro, why would Freddy have to fear being sold by Herb Garble to the butcher in Bean Home News? Good question. Search me.
Freddy is such good friends with the four mice, so why in Bean Home News does he think it would be a nice gesture to send Whibley a "box of mice" as a present for defending him in the trial? Another good question.
In Bean Home News, Herb Garble and his sister are enemies of Sheriff Higgins and try to discredit him and elect Herb in his place. Why then does the sheriff attend Mrs. Underdunk's party for Sen. Blunder? Beats me.
In Ignormus, Mrs. Lafayette Bingle finally pays Freddy for having found her glasses long ago on one of his first cases. However in Flying Saucer, Mr. Brooks says that it is Mrs. Peppercorn who had lost her glasses on her forehead. What gives? Memory loss? In Chapter 5 of Camping, too, mention is made of Freddy's having located Mrs. Bingle's lost spectacles. Just another example of our searching for consistency which isn't there.
In Politician, Mr. Weezer's glasses fall off at the mention of a $10.00 or more. Later in Camphor, it's $5.00. How come? I also noticed that originally in Politician Weezer says that his glasses are just windowpane worn for effect, but later in Football it says that he's worn the glasses for 25 years and he "...can hardly see at all without them." In Piper, Freddy asks Mr. Weezer if it would  take $1000 to get Boomschmidt's Circus going again--and Mr. Weezer's glasses don't fall off because he hasn't put them on. That makes sense. But after he puts them on, his accountant Barclay mentions sums of $150 and $700, and they don't fall off. I believe it's $10.00 everywhere in the series except Camphor. I don't know why. In Football, Brooks needed Weezer to have poor sight as a plot device in the trial scene, so he just conveniently changed things. About that business in Piper, your guess is as good as mine.
In Camphor, there's an illustration that puzzles me. Freddy mows "HELP" in unconnected block letters in Camphor's lawn. How would that be physically possible considering the kind of mower Freddy is riding? In Camping, "Mr. Eha" wears a cat mask when he haunts the Bean farm, but the illustration shows him wearing that really cool demon mask. In Space Ship Mrs. Peppercorn is supposed to be hiding behind a tree spying on a Martian, but the illustration shows her standing in plain sight among the burnt tree stumps. In Saucer Plans, Freddy is supposed to be disguised in a farmer's overalls and hat, yet Wiese's illustration shows him in his cowboy outfit. Also in the same book, Cy doesn't sport a bridle and bit in the illustration, but the trooper says he saw one and that that's why he came back to investigate. One more Politician, Mr. Brooks has Freddy flying off his bicycle and crashing through a window in the First Animal Bank and there's a Wiese illustration of this event. Then a little later Mr. Brooks writes, "It was hot in the bank, which had a door but no windows." I guess Misters Brooks and Wiese weren't paying attention to details...again.
Here's an interesting question about Mr. Camphor's coin collection from T.G. of Grand Rapids. In Freddy and Mr. Camphor, it says that Mr. Camphor owned a 1776 dollar coin and a gold rising sun doubloon. Do such coins really exist? If so, what would they have been worth? The dollar was established as the money unit of the United States of America by the Continental Congress on July 6, 1785. The Mint Act of April 2, 1792, authorized coinage of the silver dollar, and coinage of silver dollars began in 1794. What Camphor probably had was a Spanish silver dollar, which would have come into the colonies by trade across the frontier from Louisiana, although he could have owned a Continental Currency dollar of 1776 stuck in pewter, brass, or silver. In October of 2000, a pewter version sold for $7,475. The rising sun doubloon probably is the famous engraver Brasher's gold doubloon, which shows the sun rising from behind a mountain with the ocean in the foreground as on the New York State state shield. It was privately minted between the Revolutionary War and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. The legend reads "New York" "Columbia" (from Columbus, referring to the United States) and includes the NY State motto "Excelsior," which of course means "Higher." If Mr. Camphor indeed owned such a coin, it would be worth a lot of money today. One version of this coin was auctioned off in 1979 for $725,000! Here are pictures of the rising sun doubloon and the dollar. Pretty nifty, eh? Although Camphor was regarded as a silly jackass by most of Oteseraga County, he certainly knew his coins!

Brasher's gold doubloon Continenal Currency dollar
I notice that Freddy throws off his disguise consisting of Mr. Camphor's cap, coat, and trousers in chapter 13 of Camphor, but Wiese's illustration shows him wearing the outfit in the next chapter. And there is a picture of Freddy having a punch-up with the rats at the beginning of chapter 17, but the fight actually occurs in chapter 15. Another thing--at the very end of Chapter 1 of Magician, Leo agrees to have his mane clipped. However, the illustration for an earlier exchange between Leo and Freddy shows Leo already clipped. Go figure. The devil really is in the details, isn't it?
Isn't it impossible for "Cowboy" Freddy, who has trotters, to "...yank both guns--the real one and the water pistol--out of their holsters and point them and pull the triggers all inside of a single second"? Well, yes it would be. But this feat involves your "suspension of disbelief" in order to work. You either buy it or you don't. There's a lot of this in the series. For example, in Magician, Freddy says he is incapable of performing sleight-of-hand tricks for an obvious reason; however, in the same book it seems he is quite capable of sewing with needle and thread.
This is just a small detail, but it really bugs me. In Space Ship, p. 88, Uncle Ben, who thinks he is on Mars, takes "a sight on the sun which is just about to set." But just two pages earlier and minutes before, it says "over it all [the landscape] the rain poured down." Something must have distracted Mr. Brooks when he was writing page 87. Perhaps he became hungry and left his typewriter to make a liverwurst and onion sandwich, and by the time his attention returned to his task, he had forgotten the weather conditions.
How many fingers do the Martians have? In Men from Mars it's 7 fingers per hand. You've obviously noticed that elsewhere it's 10, which is indeed the case.
I'm not very good with figures, so maybe you can help me out. In Camphor, Charles claims that there are 70 trillion vegetable-eating insects in New York State. Zero pooh-poohs Charles and says it would take "hundreds and hundreds of years" to count that many. Would it really take that long? In Space Ship, Freddy says that at 100,000 m.p.h. it would take about a week to get to Mars. Is that right? In Men from Mars, Uncle Ben's space ship gets to Saturn in a week going 100,000 m.p.h. This can't be right, right? And how fast is that flying saucer? And one more thing--in Men from Mars, it takes Uncle Ben's atomic-powered station wagon two days to get to Washington, D.C. Isn't that kind of slow? Let's say that the bugs started marching by you in neat rows of 100. Each second one row goes by and you check off another 100 bugs. The last row would pass by 22,197 years later. I guess that would be "hundreds and hundreds of years" indeed!

At 100,000 m.p.h., the space ship would travel 16,800,000 miles in a week, or about 48% of the way to Mars at its closest to Earth (about 35 million miles). At its most distant from Earth, Mars is about 234 million miles away. Saturn is about 745 million miles from Earth, so a rocket traveling at 100,000 would get only 2.26% of the way there in a week.

In Men from Mars, Brooks reports the saucer as traveling 1 million miles per minute (60,000,000 miles per hour) in space and covering the distance from Syracuse to Centerboro (50 miles) in 15 seconds, or at a rate of 12,000 miles per hour. In Saucer, he says it travels at about the speed of light (669,600,000 miles per hour). There are other data given (e.g., the saucer can travel from New York to London in 10 minutes, etc.), but you can see from the examples above that it travels as fast as Brooks wants it to, so there's no point in pursuing the saucer's velocity any further.

The atomic powered station wagon must be very, very slow.

Here are even more bafflements, blunders, and bungles raised by my readers and/or by contributors to the Freddy list at I'll not attempt to clear up matters here, because to each difficulty listed below there is either no answer/explanation or the obvious answer that someone wasn't paying attention to details again.

  • P.T. of Dayton wonders how long Freddy's sheriff friend was was the sheriff in the series. In News, the sheriff says he's been in office for 20 years. But that can't be, because that means he would have been sheriff long before the animals went on their first Florida trip, and there's another Centerboro peace officer on the job in North Pole, Henry Snedeker.

  • E.N. and his young son are both splendidly observant readers of the series! E.N. points out an interesting phaeton puzzler from North Pole and several other gaffes. "The animals set out with it, but are next seen floating around without it. It has apparently been lost along the way, but it reappears at the farm in later books. How? But then, how can such things be considered important when I am troubled by larger issues; why do inchworms delight Mr. Pomeroy in Chapter 1 of Freddy Goes Camping and make him sick in Chapter 9 of Freddy and the Spaceship? In Ignormus, the windows are described as boarded up, but not portrayed that way in the drawings! And! For Gosh Sake! There is a discrepancy between the seating arrangements at Mr. Camphor's as described and as drawn in Freddy Goes Camping! In Men from Mars, onions are anathema to rats, so why, in Ignormus, did they send a squirrel to steal onions for them?  In Dragon, when Percy is describing the gang on p. 161, he says there are 'three pigs - they're so tough and badly brought up I don't think they've even got any names.' But when he meets them on 217, he greets the two pigs familiarly as Eddie and Pete. Are there three nameless pigs or two pigs named Eddie and Pete?"

  • K.L. posted this message at the Freddy list: "Hello, I have a copy of Freddy Goes To Florida, reissued in the late eighties. The cover illustration is by Leslie Morrill, whose work I do admire BTW, and has two alligators in the foreground and Freddy, Jinx, Charles, and a dog sitting on the bank. The dog is light gray and is hound-like in appearance. The only dogs that went on the journey were Robert the collie and Jack, the black dog who joined up with them after running away from his cruel owners. So anyway as the subject implies, I'm wondering if this was a mistake. BTW, I'm 30 and I think these books are terrific! : )

  • Here's another communication from E.N. regarding Dragon: "The Mrs. Bingle mystery is deeper than it seems. What can explain Mrs.Bingle’s sea change of personality between Ignormus (in which she is Freddy’s devoted and generous supporter) and Dragon (in which she is entirely hateful)? I can only assume that the once gay and carefree Mrs. Bingle was traumatized when, in Freddy the Cowboy, Mrs. Peppercorn threw the mop at her window. Mrs. Bingle must thenceforward have become disenchanted with life. She may also have harbored resentment over Mrs. Peppercorn’s purloining of her 'character tag,' the spectacle incident. Left with an undefined personality, perhaps ill temper rushed in to fill the void? Or, did Brooks simply forget who was who? But all this pales before the greatest Freddy and the Dragon mystery: Why would a reputable publisher issue a book in such a careless state? 'Jack was expecting a friend named Gimpy Jones because he limped.' (page 100) How could such sentences pass an editor?"

  • Even more from the astute E.N. & Son! He writes, "It says, 'Madame Delphine didn't like the new trailer as well as the wagon in which she had crossed the country a dozen times; she said it wasn't homey. But the wagon had finally fallen to pieces...' in Freddy the Pilot, Chapter 8. But in Freddy and the Flying Saucer Plans, Chapter 13, it states, 'In the Bean barn, there was an old-fashioned gypsy caravan--sort of a small house on wheels--that Madame Delphine, the fortune-teller with Mr. Boomshmidt's circus, had lived in for several years on the road, until Mr. Boomschmidt had bought her a trailer.' If the wagon had fallen to pieces, how did it end up, perfectly intact, in the Bean barn?" Also, E.N. notes, "The A.B.I. is usually the Animal Bureau of Investigation (e.g. Men from Mars, Chapter 19), but in Flying Saucer Plans, Chapter 2, it is the Animal Bureau of Intelligence. Which is it?" E.N. additionally points out, "In Chapter 6 of Flying Saucer Plans, Freddy disguises himself as a farmer, with the horse as his wife; but in the illustration, Freddy is still wearing his cowboy outfit. Contradictory pictures are so legion as to be hardly worth pointing out. Wiese seems to have read as carelessly as Brooks wrote." (I would have to agree with E.N. on that point 100%!)

  • Here are a couple more spiffulous sightings of hiccups and hitches in the series from E.N. & Son! "In Chapter 7 of Space Ship, Mrs. Peppercorn wants to remove her helmet. Freddy remembers that 'she couldn’t get the helmet off by herself anyway, since all the helmets were fastened by nuts, which had to be screwed down from the outside.' But, in Chapter 11, when Mr. Bean asks Freddy to remove his helmet, 'Freddy unscrewed the locks that locked the helmet, then lifted it off....' Is it possible to remove your own helmet or isn’t it? By the way, the picture at the head of Freddy Rides Again, Chapter 2, shows Freddy, Jinx, and a cow, presumably Mrs. Wiggins, passing through the Margarine gateway, but the text makes it clear that only Freddy and Jinx are present: “The two friends went through the tall iron gates....”

  • Is there any end to E.N.'s spotting of goof-ups in the series? I hope not! Here are even more. "Are Red, Red Mike, and Bloody Mike the same person? How about the various Looeys? Are the doctors Wintersip, Winterbottom, and Winterpool one doctor, tripled by Brooksian confusion? In Chapter 1 of Magician, Leo’s mane is matted with burrs, and clipping it is discussed. But Wiese apparently read carelessly, as, in the illustration, Leo’s head is already denuded. In North Pole, the phaeton is last mentioned as being on the iceberg. We need a 'magic vehicle' theory to account for the phaeton (abandoned on a melting iceberg) and the gypsy wagon (fell to pieces) both appearing in the Bean barn. 'But Mr. Webb was a courageous insect...' (Ignormus, Chapter 10) Is anyone else annoyed by Brooks’ contention that spiders are insects? [In Space Ship] [t]he space ship will reach Mars in 'about a week' (Chapter 5). But when they leave, 'The earth was behind them and so was the sun; Mars was still on the other side of the sun, swinging around in its orbit towards the spot where they planned to meet it.' Apparently, they expect Mars to complete half of its orbit in a week. As the orbit of Mars is 1.88 years, they haven’t a chance of hitting it. When they accidentally turn the ship around, wouldn’t somebody notice, if nothing else, that they are heading back toward the Sun, rather than away from it? And shouldn’t 'Earth' and 'Sun' be capitalized? Of course, Brooks is not a science fiction writer."
  • More, too, gleaned from E.N.'s postings at the Freddy list, here's a pretty comprehensive study of the "revolving henhouse door" mystery. "In Detective, in the last sentence of Chapter VI, Henrietta 'slams' the henhouse door. A revolving door does not slam, so it has not yet been put in. The accompanying picture bears out this conclusion. In Wiggins for President (1939), the woodpeckers promise to install revolving doors, but, of course, never do so. In Chapter 4 of Weedly (1940), the henhouse door 'flew open,' which doesn't sound like the action of a revolving door. In Chapter 3 of Magician (1947), the henhouse has 'little revolving doors.' In chapter 7 of Rides Again (1951), the henhouse does have 'an unusual feature, a revolving door.' In Men from Mars (1954), the revolving doors were installed 'last year.' More research is necessary, but we can confidently state that Mr. Bean installed the revolving door after the animals came back from Florida (1927); that it had not yet been installed in 1932 (Freddy the Detective), nor yet in 1939 (Wiggins for President), nor in 1940 (Weedly); that it was there by 1947 (Magician) and still around in 1951 (Freddy Rides Again); and that in 1954 (Freddy and the Men From Mars), it had been installed 'last year' (1953). Not merely the chronology, but the purpose of the revolving door is in doubt. When 'Henrietta had complained of the cold, Mr. Bean had had the door put in,' according to Freddy Rides Again (Chapter 7). But, in Wiggins for President, Henrietta wants the revolving door to stop the chickens from 'pushing and bumping into one another' (Chapter X). It seems hardly worth pointing out that Brooks implies in chapter 12 of Magician that Minx is black with a white chest and forepaws, while in Ignormus she is drawn as a white cat with black spots along her back and the top of her head.
  • E.N. notices something very curious about the skunks: In Camping, Chapter 14, it says, "And Sniffy Wilson's daughter, Aroma, who had not been in the fight at all, had fainted away from excitement." In the subsequent Pilot, Chapter 9, though, "Out of the stable came Sniffy Wilson and his wife, Aroma, followed by their seven oldest children." E.N. asks the obvious question: "When exactly did Sniffy's daughter become his wife? Perhaps it would be better for everybody if we assume that one of the daughters was named for the mother." Quite!
  • P.M. notes a discrepancy in a Kurt Wiese illustration in Florida: He says, "After Charles delivers his speech to the animals in Chapter II, he hops down from the seat of the buggy from which he had been holding forth. But the Wiese illustration shows him delivering his speech from a feed bin, not from the buggy." There are numerous such errors in the Freddy books. While not detracting from whatever charm the illustrations may have, they do irritate.
  • Another glitch from the assiduous E.N. & Son: "In Cowboy, Freddy and Mrs. Bean try to figure out who sent the threatening letter. They assume that the culprit must be someone who was in the house today, and by process of elimination, arrive at Jinx. However, as the letter was written five days earlier, what difference does it make who was in the house today? Freddy and Mrs. Bean are certainly working from a false premise, although their conclusion was luckily correct. We can blame the faulty reasoning on Freddy, as Mrs. Bean seems not to have been told when the letter arrived, and Freddy seems not to have questioned her assumption that it was written on that day. I'm more inclined to think Brooks had forgotten, after several pages, just when the letter was written I know, we've gotten past the major problems and we're nitpicking." If I may, I think that nitpicking is justifiable. In this case, for example, it forces one to consider the process by which the text and illustrations of the Freddy books were joined together. One wonders, for instance, how carefully Wiese read the texts he was to illustrate, or whether the full texts were available to him, or whether they weren't, and he was asked to illustrate some scene in which a rooster delivers a speech to a bunch of animals in a barn. Is there a definitive answer? Search me! We'll leave that matter to the Freddyite scholars, some of whom have accumulated a great deal of information about Mr. Brooks and Mr. Wiese. Perhaps one of them might even publish a short treatise upon this subject in their Bean Home Newsletter, although I wouldn't hold my breath.

    This marks the end of additions to the "Great Mysteries" page. If you have other mysteries you'd like to bring up for discussion, I suggest you mention them to the Freddy group at Yahoo. To become a member of this mail list, follow the link on my table of contents page. Though not a terribly active group (actually, it's quite sluggish), members can be roused occasionally to discuss Freddyish matters. Good luck!

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