- Series: The Great Brain
- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: Dial Books (January 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0803725906
- ISBN-13: 978-0803725904
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.7 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (251 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Great Brain Hardcover – January 1, 2000
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* "A funny, fast-moving, endearing book that [readers] will lap up!"--Kirkus Reviews, starred review
From the Publisher
The Great Brain is Tom D. Fitzgerald, aged ten. The story is told by J.D., a sometimes confounded but always admiring younger brother. Such people as Mr. Standish, the mean schoolmaster, regret the day they came up against The Great Brain. But others, like the Jensen kids lost in Skeleton Cave, Basil, the Greek kid, or Andy, who has lost his leg and his friends, know that Tom's great brain never fails to find a way home. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I am currently reading The Great Brain to my six-year old son. At first I was afraid that the writing was a little too sophisticated for him, but with an explanation here and a definition there, he's doing just fine with it. He laughed uproariously at the scene in the opening chapter of the public uncrating and display of the first water closet (indoor flush toilet)in Adenville. These stories are terrific entertainment, as well as history lessons. They give kids a sense of how daily life was a century ago from a kid's perspective.
I picked up a copy of More adventures of the Great Brain, the second in the series, at a book fair in elementary school. (It isn't strictly necessary to read the books in order, though of course it's nice.) I was the most avid reader in my family, though the youngest, and for some reason one summer day when we were bored I started reading the book aloud to my older sister and my uncle, who was only five years older than me (I was nine or ten at the time.) Pretty soon, all three of us were devouring the rest of the series, swapping them among ourselves. I can't be sure, but I think the books may have started my sister's love of reading, though my uncle had always been a reader and had turned me on to the Lord of the Rings. At any rate, these were favorites for years.
Parents, please, please don't be put off by the fact that these books are about a mischievous boy with a penchant for swindling his pals out of their prized possessions. I have not raised children myself, but from my own reading I think children's books that don't have an element of mischief and rebellion in them or quite dull, and as a kid I hated nothing worse than to read a book where I felt like I was being preached to. T.d. gets into plenty of trouble, but his conscience develops as the books progress and he learns that his great brain can be used to help others as well as to cheat them. Unlike some other kids' books where the grownups are simply the bad guys, the adults in these stories are firm but supportive, strict but loving. Despite their tendency to disobey, T.D. and his brothers love and admire their parents and their beloved Uncle Mark, the town's marshall and deputy sheriff who is portrayed as both heroic and down to earth. J.D. says at one point that he really likes his uncle because "he never talked down to Tom and me, but treated us just like grownups," and like his fictional uncle (who may have been based on a real person) Fitzgerald never makes the mistake of condescending to his readers. The tragic story of Abie Glassman in this first volume isn't the last time readers will encounter hard truths in these stories, but Fitzgerald writes about the ups and downs of life in a way that kids will find delightful to digest. The author also lets kids know that grownups screw up, too, and that we all have to learn from each other.
The Great Brain series, as a whole, has the very best of a Wild West adventure, one of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer stories, and the best coming-of-age fiction. There are a few old-fashioned notions here that might not go down well with the PC crowd, like the episode in the second book in which the Fitzgerald family takes on the task of trying to get a tomboy to act more feminine, but none of this should keep you from reading these great stories or giving them to your kids. Despite J.D.'s quip in the first chapter of this book about there being noone more tolerant or understanding of your differences than a kid you can whip in a fight, these books are all about tolerance and treating your fellow man with decency and fairness and love. I am glad these books are still in print and I sincerely hope a whole new generation discovers them, as it would be nothing short of tragic for them to be lost in the dustbin of forgotten kids' lit. Buy them, read them, and pass them on.
One nitpick: while I'm thankful these are finally available for the Kindle (long overdue), and they are as great a read as always, it appears that Mercer Mayer's classic illustrations are not included. I don't understand why that is, as these illustrations add a great deal of atmosphere to the original books and I really wish they were included here. Perhaps the Kindle files will be updated someday. I almost knocked off a star or two just for that, but ultimately these are great books nonetheless, and the fault lies only in the Kindle version in particular.
The first book was published in 1967, making it fifty years old at the time of this review. Happy Birthday, Great Brain!
Photo: Current editions and original editions from 1967 - 1973