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The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  787 Ratings  ·  163 Reviews

On a quiet autumn afternoon in 1944, nine-year-old Morris Bird III decides to visit a friend who lives on the other side of town. So he grabs the handle of his red wagon and, with his little sister in tow, begins an incredible pilgrimage across Cleveland . . . and out of childhood forever.

Set against the backdrop of one of the worst industrial disasters in American his

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Paperback, 211 pages
Published April 22nd 2008 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1965)
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K.D. Absolutely
Did you know that before 1912, loaf breads were all sold unsliced and wrapped in a paper or preferably in a foil to preserve their freshness? And American housewives used to complain because of the arduous task of slicing the bread into same thickness for the packed lunch and snacks of their husbands and children? This was the case until Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport, Iowa invented the first loaf-bread-slicing machine. It gained popularity across the US and increased the consumption of b ...more
Cody
Feb 13, 2017 Cody rated it liked it
Emblazoned on this book's front cover: "Rediscover an American Classic." Also on the cover is a blurb from Stephen King, comparing this short novel to the likes of The Catcher in the Rye and The Outsiders. Does it belong on the same shelf as those, as King says? Certainly not The Outsiders. Anything is better than The Catcher in the Rye, though. Man, fuck that book. Holden Caulfield can sit on it and twirl.

Honestly, I was pretty disappointed in this. Specifically the latter half. The author ran
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Carol
Sep 12, 2009 Carol rated it liked it
I read this entire book tonight while I was babysitting a friend's two-year old (who was asleep the whole time). Given that I'm from Cleveland, it was interesting to map out the streets in my head. I enjoyed the book, and am looking forward to reading more from him.

Update: After thinking about this book overnight, I must state one thing. I find it very hard to believe that a 9 and a 6 year old did what they did. I realise that the year was 1944, and to a certain extent, children in an older gene
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Andi
Dec 03, 2008 Andi rated it it was amazing
This was my first encounter with Don Robertson's writing. I cannot wait to read some of his other work!

It is the story of Morris Bird III, a nine-year-old boy living in Cleveland in 1944. It is written from Morris' perspective, capturing his mischievousness, innocence, and perception of the world around him.

As the story progresses it intertwines Morris with one of the worst industrial disasters in American history. I had never heard of this incident and found this storyline to be particularly i
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Gaye Larsen
Jun 22, 2008 Gaye Larsen rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. Reminds me of "Catcher in the Rye" meets Ralphie from "A Christmas Story".
wally
Jun 18, 2015 wally rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, robertson
18 jun 15
1st from robertson for me. onward, ever onward.

20 jun 15
finished. great story! i've marked it as a favorite. and i've already ordered a couple more stories by robertson. how many more? how many other stories are out there that i've never heard about...this one was published in 1965...and as good a story as it is, you'd think i would have heard mention of it...somewhere. i think it was a stephen king interview in the new york times that called attention to this robertson guy. so...i fou
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Mark
Jul 24, 2008 Mark rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: book lovers, aspiring writers, hell, just about anyone
Recommended to Mark by: Ron Tater
Listen to me now and believe me later...

If for no other reason than Steven King learned everything he knew about writing from John D. MacDonald and Don Robertson, this man's entire body of work deserves to be kept in print. This is one of his best books, and the fact that this is part one of three gives me hope that we'll some day soon see the rest of Robertson's body of work back on the shelves again.

Stylistically, there's so much that burgeoning writers can take from Robertson. He loves words,
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Theresa Maher
Jul 03, 2008 Theresa Maher rated it liked it
You know the old saying, "you can't judge a book by it's cover?" Well, I did. I bought this book because Stephen King convinced me to. He says, "A book to put on the same shelf as the Catcher in the Rye and The Outsiders". I have to disagree. Morris Bird III is certainly a memorable nine year old hero; one whose courage, dedication and bravery is worth discovering. I don't know that Robertson's writing style is "masterpeice" worthy; he certainly is no Salinger or Hinton. I loved the nostolgia; I ...more
Agathafrye
Apr 17, 2009 Agathafrye rated it really liked it
There was a lot going on in this book, and I had a hard time following all of the eight zillion characters simultaneously, but I really admired the uncanny way Mr. Robertson was able to get into the head of an eight year old boy. The language was a little gee gosh shucks for my taste, but the storyline saved me from getting too annoyed, and this book was set in 1944, so I have to cut it some slack in that department. Morris Bird decides to stand up for something he believes in by visiting his ne ...more
Sarah
Feb 11, 2009 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sarah by: Shauna
2013: Read it again for book club and enjoyed it nearly as much.

I really enjoyed reading "The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread" but it's hard to say exactly why...I loved the style and the rhythm of Robertson's words. I loved how he captured so many characters in few words. I loved how many layers there were to the story. I loved the morals he promoted, albeit subtly. I loved Morris' Grandma and his teacher and the tall black lady. It's a great book. I am definitely going to suggest this for o
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Drew Graham
Sep 08, 2015 Drew Graham rated it really liked it
Shelves: me
Morris Bird III in a typical kid growing up in 1950s Cleveland -- He struggles through school, he deals with a pesky little sister, he gets into and out of trouble. When his unlikely best friend moves across town (taking his marvelous model train set with him), Morris Bird III doesn't even realize how much it's going to affect him for the rest of his life, especially after he makes plans to steal away from school and journey across town for a visit.

This is a book my mom recommended to me, after
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Mel
Jul 11, 2008 Mel rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: definitely
Recommended to Mel by: it jumped off the store shelf into my arms
Morris Bird III is 9y.o. and he's s typical boy in the '40's (or so I surmise from stories my dad has told me of his childhood.) The beginning of the book is slow, but very important to get the feel of the times and the characters.
When Morris's teacher gives a speech about self-respect he decides he wants that. He plans a trip to visit a friend that moved away to another part of town. He's going to visit his friend Stanley Chaloupka, whom is an odd bird and doesn't have any friends. From the be
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Michele
Dec 07, 2016 Michele rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-books-read
This book came to me in such a unique way. I was not at all familiar with this author. I also had no knowledge about one of the biggest industrial disasters in our counties history. The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread is set in Cleveland, Ohio in 1944. It is a wonderful, vividly presented & nostalgic read. 9 year old Morris Bird III is an endearing and enduring character. This is a little gem of a book.
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Mar 19, 2011 Lori L (She Treads Softly) rated it it was amazing
The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread by Don Robertson was originally published in 1965. My 2008 HarperCollins paperback edition is 211 pages. Let me start out saying this book is a 5 and truly does belong next to other classics. It is great news that HarperCollins reprinted the two sequels so everyone can continue to follow the life of Morris Bird III, a nine-year-old boy who discovers on the day he decides to skip school in order to visit a friend what it means to have self-respect and be brav ...more
Angela
Oct 06, 2010 Angela rated it really liked it
What a sweet book! Robertson takes you into the head of little Morris Bird III, aged 9, as he makes a pilgrimage across 1944 Cleveland to teach himself SELFRESPECT. He just happens to pick the day of Cleveland's biggest disaster - the explosion of the holding takes for a natural gas liquification plant. This odyssey allows Robertson to portray a slice of life during another wartime America, one where cigarettes and gasoline were rationed and everyone knew which families mourned missing men. But, ...more
Melissa
Nov 22, 2008 Melissa rated it really liked it
A boy sets out to visit his friend who has moved across town. He's decided it's time to show himself that he can be courageous and that's he's no longer a kid (though only 9). And so he sets out, and things don't go quite as planned. First, he has to bring his sister along. He runs into various people along the way. Throughout, there are glimpses of others carrying out their day, and though there's no obvious connection, you have confidence that there will be.

And then, suddenly, it all comes tog
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Pyper
Oct 27, 2008 Pyper rated it it was amazing
This book really brought me into reminiscing about my thoughts when I was a child. It was interesting the way Robertson repeated a lot of the dialog and yet it just coaxed me in further. Mostly I really liked the way Robertson referred to everyone in their full name, first and last, even the main character, it helped make all the characters more real to me. And then at the climatic explosion in the book it just happens, it's instantaneous and yet so simple how the young main character just spont ...more
Laura
Jan 16, 2008 Laura rated it it was ok
The blurb (from Stephen King, no less!) says "...a book to put on the same shelf as The Catcher in the Rye and The Outsiders" Well, not really. The jacket touts that we can Rediscover An American Classic, but again - not really. The thing about classics is that they're classic; a "classic" published in 1965 should not have gone out of print, right?

The story is historical fiction, set in Cleveland. I didn't mind the story, but the pacing was off. There were times when it dragged, and then there w
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Suzanne
Mar 04, 2009 Suzanne rated it liked it
It's a little like first parts of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man if only Stephen Daedalus had been a nice person, and also an American. I might have liked this better if I hadn't just finished another similar book, Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. As it was, both was swimming in a bit too much nostalgia for me; in addition, the feminist commentary seemed a bit heavy-handed in light of more recent gender theory.
Beverly
Jan 20, 2016 Beverly rated it really liked it
Shelves: cover-to-cover
I am amazed that I've never even heard anything about this book since it was published in 1965. An amazing adventure story about 9 year old Morris Bird III, who decides that he is going to walk across Cleveland to visit a friend who has moved. He ends up pulling his younger sister in a wagon on the trip. The two of them take off on this journey the day of the great gas explosion that occurred in Cleveland in 1944. Morris wants to complete the trip to prove that he can accomplish it on his own. T ...more
Kim
May 18, 2008 Kim rated it really liked it
The tale of Morris Bird III, a nine-year-old boy in 1940s Cleveland, who sets off across the city to visit a friend. His adventure, innocent enough, turns into much more when, over the course of his trip, an industrial disaster occurs. This was a wonderful story of bravery, courage, responsibility and morality. Morris' courage is an example to us all and a foil against the cowardice of some of the other characters. Don Robertson's writing style is similar to that of J.D. Salinger and, as such, I ...more
Cara
Nov 30, 2014 Cara rated it it was ok
I couldn't quite wrap my head around this book. While it's written in language the 9-year old protagonist would use, it deals with some pretty adult themes. I suppose the point is that children are often have to deal with this type of stuff, and process it in their own childlike way. Somehow I felt like this didn't quite work in the book though, and really serious issues were kind of brushed over in a strangely semi-humorous way. Due to the time period the book was written in, it's fairly racist ...more
Leigh
Sep 07, 2012 Leigh rated it it was amazing


Sweet story very reminiscent of the movie "A Christmas Story" of a 9-year-old Cleveland boy named Morris Bird III who wants to do something brave. He decides to visit his best friend who has moved across town, and decides to get there by walking. Little does know he will end up in the middle of a deadly event in Cleveland's history that will showcase his bravery in a way that a walk across town never could.

Set against the backdrop of WW II, this book was all the precious hilarity and innocence
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Chad Malkamaki
Sep 17, 2015 Chad Malkamaki rated it it was amazing
The first book in the Morris Bird III trilogy, this book is a must read for anyone that studies or is interested in Cleveland history. Set in 1944 during the East Ohio Gas Explosion, Robertson sees his young protagonist go on an adventure that takes Morris and his younger sister dangerously close to this tragic event. Glimpses inside the head of a 9 year old boy growing use in Cleveland, with graphic descriptions of the horrors of thousands of pounds of natural gas exploding. If you have a weak ...more
Kari
Dec 29, 2013 Kari rated it it was amazing
After reading my cousin, Sarah's review of this book I decided to read it in hopes of giving it away at our annual Cooking Club book swap. It did not disappoint! Its tone was reminiscient of "A Christmas Story"- which I love. I was a little taken back by the disaster- which I had never heard of before- it recounts at the end even though i knew the story was going this way. It was just a sharp contrast to the coming of age adventure Morris Bird III was having. I did enjoy the way the author wove ...more
Haizle The Princess Williams
Aug 31, 2008 Haizle The Princess Williams rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in a good story based on the history of Cleveland
Recommended to Haizle The Princess by: Tiffany Olizarowicz
The first of three books, this novel kept my attention from beginning to end. Written in the voice of a young boy, I didn't expect to identify with the character as much as I did. I am looking forward to reading the next two installments of this story.

What I learned: If love is a part of who you are (a general type of love- open to everyone and everything), doing what is good and noble will be a part of you. The world itself will seem to be a crazy place, full of those who aren't like you.

What e
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Lataun
Jan 29, 2009 Lataun rated it did not like it
Recommended to Lataun by: Selina
(sorry Selina)

I found myself smiling a few times at the wittiness of the writing. BUT....oh my goodness...It took him sooooooooooooooo long to get to the jist of the plot. It took me forever to get through this book and I really wanted to love it, even like it alot. Selina, one of my favorite book girlfriends/cousin loved it...but all the subplots going on and jumping back and forth and the crazy names of them all... All of this totally outweighed the "good meat" of the book. I was pretty much
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Richard
Aug 30, 2008 Richard rated it liked it
A novel about a 9 year old boy in 1944 in Cleveland. The boy learns about life and about independence and commitment. He has to cope with a 6 year old sister during his adventures. A disaster happens about 2/3 of the way during the book. The young boy copes with it in a way that inspires simple dedication and duty. Not a great book but it was a good book and helped me to realize how simple description and dialogue can enlighten any reading. For example: the author didn’t say that the boy, Morris ...more
Carol
May 15, 2011 Carol rated it it was amazing
I read this book one day in high school & rediscovered it recently. It was minimally as good as I remembered - I sat in the classroom during the spelling bees, I laughed at Morris Bird III trying to cope with his little sister Sandra, I worried when the football vanished in the coal truck, my shoulders ached from the weight of the wagon, my heart broke wondering where Stanley went. Yes, they will be in trouble when they get home oh yes - it was worth it.
I give it five stars - partly for conc
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Viki
Mar 08, 2012 Viki rated it it was ok
The novel is a coming of age book about a nine year old boy growing up during World War II. A great tragedy hits his town and the reader has a close-up view of how this young boy deals with bad situations. While I enjoyed the author's prose and his turn of phrases, I found myself skimming some of the story to get to the action. Little snippets teased the reader of what was to come, but I felt like it drug out some of the daily details leading to that point. I wanted more of the aftermath details ...more
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Robertson was born in Cleveland, Ohio and attended East High School. He briefly attended Harvard and Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve University) before working as a reporter and columnist.

Robertson won the Cleveland Arts Prize in 1966. The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature presented him with its Mark Twain Award in 1991. The Press Club of Cleveland's Hall of Fame
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