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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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1,407205,386 (4.02)1 / 40
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 Great Brain, also known as Tom, is a 10 year old boy living with his family in rural Utah in the 1890's. His younger brother, J.D. (an analogue for the author) is the first-person narrator. Tom uses his Great Brain mainly to swindle other kinds in town and con his brother into doing things for him. At one point, when helping a friend overcome a devastating injury, he almost seems to have a heart, but then returns to his old ways pretty quickly.

This book actually contains one of the saddest things I've ever read, and which I was surprised at its inclusion in this children's book, was the story of how an old tinker was encouraged by Tom & J.D.'s dad to retire and set up a shop in their town, but nobody really shopped there, and he died of starvation. In this day and age in which the choice between shopping at the Wal-Mart or the local Mom & Pop shop is probably not a life or death decision, it still helps to be reminded that we should look out for each other.

I'd say this book falls into the category of "things I enjoyed reading as a child that still hold up upon reading as an adult". It didn't come off as cheesy or too juvenile and I enjoyed the setting.

It's interesting to note that the author could easily be very critical of Mormons in his text, since his was one of the only Catholic families in a very Mormon town and even now there are a lot of people who denigrate Mormons, but he does not do this at all, which is good.

Recommended for young and old, although very young children might need some comfort after the chapter about the tinker. Some good life lessons are contained herein, which should spark some discussion about right and wrong, honor, and deceit/manipulation. ( )
  EmScape | Sep 11, 2014 |
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 |
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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)

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