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The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald

The Great Brain (original 1967; edition 2000)

by John D. Fitzgerald, Mercer Mayer (Illustrator)

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1,380195,525 (4.02)1 / 37
Title:The Great Brain
Authors:John D. Fitzgerald
Other authors:Mercer Mayer (Illustrator)
Info:Dial (2000), Hardcover, 192 pages
Collections:CLASSROOM LIBRARY, BOY'S, Your library

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The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald (1967)



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The best con man in the Midwest is only ten years old. Tom, a.k.a., the Great Brain, is a silver-tongued genius with a knack for turning a profit. When the Jenkins boys get lost in Skeleton Cave, the Great Brain saves the day. Whether it's saving the kids at school, or helping out Peg-leg Andy, or Basil, the new kid at school, the Great Brain always manages to come out on top and line his pockets in the process. ( )
  Stsmurphy | Jun 7, 2014 |
Great fun! Made me go look for his adult books too. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
  saintmarysaccden | Nov 7, 2013 |
Spend time with J.D. and his older brother Tom, “The Great Brain.” The Great Brain concocts all sorts of schemes to get rich and make his life easier, while J.D. just tries to keep up.
http://www.bookpikks.com/the-magic-of-small-town-fiction/ ( )
  rapikk | Apr 14, 2013 |
I've read a lot of books to my son. A lot. The Hobbit, all three books of The Lord of the Rings, the Narnia books, Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain, six or seven of the original Doctor Dolittle books, several Three Investigators books, and far more. And he's loved almost all of them (I selected them carefully, from the books I loved best as I child and teen).

But so far, I think he loves the Great Brain series best.

Partly, I think that because they're so accessible. John D. Fitzgerald writes about his semi-fictionalized younger self in the true voice of a child - and that's quite an accomplishment. When his brother insults the father of a friend, the young John D. tells us that he has visions of that man coming down the street after them with a butcher knife. That's not the sort of language that most modern publishers allow in books for children, I believe, but it's how children think - some of the time. And over and over, as I was reading The Great Brain to my son, he'd stop me and ask me if the book really said what I'd just read.

You see, I sometimes can't resist adding a humorous comment or line now and then in some books - always, however, immediately admitting that the book didn't really say that. For this book I didn't add a word - but many of the passages in the book were so funny that my son suspected that I'd added them. I had to show him the lines in the book to convince him!

He pretty much had a huge grin on his face the whole time that I was reading. When I'd finish a chapter, he'd hold my arm and beg for another one. I can't think of higher praise for a book for children.

Each chapter in this book is a self-contained story, written in a beautifully straightforward style that some have compared to that of Mark Twain. John D. Fitzgerald (the author, as you'll note) chronicles his childhood as the younger brother of the infamous Great Brain, the greatest kid swindler in town. He is, of course, frequently the victim of the Great Brain.

In fact the Great Brain is pretty much a complete jerk, as we all noticed fairly quickly. But the stories are so entertaining that it doesn't matter.

A warning: the original edition and most later reissues are perfectly illustrated by Mercer Meyer. For some insane and inexplicable reason, there are a few editions out there that have been re-illustrated by other artists. This makes about as much sense as replacing the classic Tenniel illustrations in Alice In Wonderland (which has, of course, also been done. What were they thinking?).

Another point: the story begins in 1896. Although the town has electricity and street lights, one of the stories features the installation of the first flush toilet in town. It's hysterical, but it's also a great opportunity to explain something about history to young children in a way that they'll enjoy and remember.

All in all, a deeply enjoyable classic. ( )
  PMaranci | Apr 3, 2013 |
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For Michele Ann and John Michael
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Most everyone in Utah remembers 1896 as the year the territory became a state.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440430712, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:45 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The exploits of the Great Brain of Adenville, Utah are described by his younger brother, frequently the victim of the Great Brain's schemes for gaining prestige or money.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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