Cover image for John Willy and Freddy McGee
John Willy and Freddy McGee
Meade, Holly.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Marshall Cavendish, [1998]

Physical Description:
32 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 27 x 29 cm
Two guinea pigs escape from their safe but boring cage and have an adventure in the tunnels of the family's pool table.
Reading Level:
AD 580 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.8 0.5 27998.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.1 1 Quiz: 17314 Guided reading level: K.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



A life of nibbling grains and burrowing in straw is perfect for ordinary guinea pigs. Then again, it's perfectly boring for guinea pigs as extraordinary as John Willy and Freddy McGee! So, of course, when their cage door is left open, these two daring friends take the chance to escape. Out into the world they go, afraid of nothing. That is, until they suddenly hear--while inside the tunnels of a pool table: TAP! wumba BONK! tap-tap wumba BONK! Off they go again--this time back to their cage, but not for long! The wonderful cut paper pictures of Caldecott Honor artist Holly Meade take young children on an adventure they will thoroughly enjoy.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4^-6. Temporarily escaping their humdrum life, two guinea pigs scurry through an open cage door, scramble through comfortably furnished rooms, climb atop a pool table, and find their bliss racing round and round its tunnels. Alas, they are driven out when balls begin dropping into the pockets, and they retrace their route pursued (not that they notice, but young viewers will) by a very interested cat. Using gouache and cut-paper collage, Meade, winner of a Caldecott Honor Book designation for Minfong Ho's Hush! A Thai Lullaby (1996), creates a series of color-coded rooms seen from human eye level in a subdued, even light. In the close-up scenes, John Willy and Freddy McGee are authentically plump and purposeful, as engaging as, for instance, the cavies in Kate Duke's books or A. N. Wilson's Hazel the Guinea Pig (1992). Although Meade switches tenses once to no evident purpose, her text has a roll and bounce to it that effectively capture the pace and excitement of her explorers' wild "scuddle." Back in the cage, they pause to catch their breaths, and then it's out the door again for a new adventure. Take young readers who are ready to follow them on a bear hunt, or share Pamela Duncan Lewis' Livingstone Mouse (1996). --John Peters

Publisher's Weekly Review

With handsome large-scale gouache and cut-paper pictures, the Caldecott Honor illustrator (Hush! A Thai Lullaby) sends the title characters, two bored pet guinea pigs who escape from their cage, on an eventful romp through the house. They make straight for the pool table. As Meade's playfully repetitive narrative explains, "Guinea pigs don't care at all about playing pool. They DO care about scurrying around and around in tunnels. They liked being inside the pool table. They liked it a lot." After the household cat (introduced in the art only) rolls balls through the table's pockets and into the guinea pigs' crawl space, the two scamper back to their cage, evidently relieved to be "home at last" (or not‘the ending literally leaves the door open for another adventure). Readers will happily trace the adventurous protagonists' path in the lighthearted artwork. Meade's palette changes with virtually every spread, as each room in the house has a different color scheme. The pool-table sequence is particularly inspired, with the "tunnels" laid out against black backdrops while colored, oversize type supplies sound effects ("tap... bonkity-bonk!"). Susan L. Roth's Cinammon's Day Out (reviewed June 15), offers a similar plot featuring a roving gerbil; there the treatment is a bit more tender. This one, by contrast, has a mischievous streak. Ages 3-8. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-John Willy and Freddy McGee have everything they need in their comfortable cage-food, water, straw-"It is so perfect. It is so BORING." When the door is mistakenly left open, the impetuous guinea pigs venture out into the house. After scurrying across the floor and climbing up a chair back, they launch themselves onto a pool table and run through the long, narrow tunnels. Meanwhile, above their heads, a curious cat sets danger in motion with the swat of a paw and, as billiard balls begin to roll, the rodents experience a few tight moments. Finally, with the cat in pursuit, the friends retrace their steps and make a dash for the safety of home. Then, after a couple of relieved sighs, the intrepid travelers spy the open door and head out for another adventure. Meade's colorful, cut-paper collages work in harmony with her text, adding details and extending the action of the story. Broad, double-page spreads show the guinea pigs' route, while close-ups of the animals highlight their personalities. In the tunnel-view scene showing Freddy McGee's close call, a black background focuses the eye on the confrontation, while the sound effects ("BONKITY BONK! BONK!) appear in jaunty orange and yellow type. A fine tale of two courageous creatures and their indelible spirit of discovery.-Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.