Freddy Goes to the North Pole
originally titled More To and Again
By Walter R. Brooks
Alfred A Knopf, 1930
This is the second book in the Freddy series; the first book is Freddy Goes to Florida, although there is no particular need to read these book in order. In the first book, a motley group of farm animals had an exciting adventure travelling, on their own, to Florida for the winter. Many animals expressed that they wished that they could see the wonderful sights that travelers had seen... which gives Freddy and his friends the idea of starting a travel agency.
Barnyard Tours Inc. does very well, but work is hard, and it isn't long before Freddy, Ferdinand the crow, and Jinx the cat are ready for another adventure of their own. They head off to the North Pole... and don't come back. Months later, a badly damaged Ferdinand straggles into the barnyard, reporting that the animal are being held captive by some sailors who are looking for Santa. Charles the Rooster quickly organizes a rescue party, and they head off into the wilds of Canada and beyond.
They have a number of adventures along the way, picking up a bear and two children, fighting off wolves, and making many friends. They eventually find the North Pole, where the other animals, the sailors, and Santa are waiting for them. Naturally, this is a magical wonderland, with presents every day, unlimited winter sports with hot chocolate to follow, and anything else that a young child might wish to imagine a group of farm animals doing in Santa's workshop.
This is too wonderful to last, of course. It quickly comes to light that the sailors, with the best of intentions, are trying to modernize Santa's workshop, and this is making everyone miserable. Santa is much too kind to tell them that they aren't helping, and it is up to the animals to find a way to convince the sailors to move on.
Freddy is much more central to this story than he was in the previous book, although he is not quite the main character; Jinx the cat and the cows are also clearly entering into their roles as major characters. This book also introduces the children Everett and Ella, who the animals rescue from abusive caretakers (but this is not kidnapping because Santa Claus later comes and pays their aunt and uncle in exchange for letting them run off with the animals), and Peter the bear who decides that the farm life will suit him quite nicely.
Any story that involves talking animals travelling to meet Santa is going to be awfully hokey, and Brooks knows this -- and embraces it. All of the adults behave like young children, everybody at Santa's palace spends much of their time in the enormous present room playing with toys, and there is never any question that everything is going to turn out wonderfully. This is tempered by the animals being their usual persnickety selves, the surprising number of bad guys (and animals) that populate the frozen north, and, of course, Brooks clearly having a lot of fun laughing at himself for being silly.
As with any of the Freddy books, be warned that the characters are a bit more blunt and old-fashioned then those found in modern books, and the moral of events tend to be things like "if someone calls you out on being fat, take it in good spirit" rather than "don't call people fat".
The next Feddy book is Freddy the detective, which is really when the series starts to get into the character dynamics that will dominate the rest of the series.