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The Great Brain

(The Great Brain #1)

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4.17  ·  Rating details ·  15,359 ratings  ·  874 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 9th 2004 by Puffin Books (first published 1967)
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4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  15,359 ratings  ·  874 reviews


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Peter
Sep 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any child, and any adult with a sense of humor
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 writ
...more
Bonnie
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Okay, what Miniscule Brain at Dell Yearling authorized the AWFUL, anachronistic covers for the 1970s reprints of these books? I'm sorry, but it's Mercer Mayer's original drawings or NOTHING, in my opinion. If you are unlucky enough to own the 1970s Dell Yearling reprints with their Little Rascals-esque cover art, you have my profound pity. The good news is that Mayer's classic, gorgeous, marvelous drawings are still included inside the books. Fitzgerald alone is great, but Fitzgerald with Mayer? ...more
Amy
A solid, wonderful children's book with the spirit of Tom Sawyer. I highly enjoyed this one.
Yusra  ✨
May 02, 2018 marked it as to-read
adding this because goodreads recommended I read it after Caraval... and how could I ever refuse a goodreads recommendation? how??

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Doug
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shala Howell
What The Five-Year-Old Thought: "I can't explain why I liked it except that JD is telling the story. Tom is the one with the Great Brain and he rescued a few guys."

What Mommyo thought: My husband is in the process of reading this to our 5YO. Both are really enjoying it (true confessions -- my husband read this as a child, so his enjoyment may be partly nostalgia).

When they got to the bit about making homemade ice cream, The 5YO said: “Daddyo, I want to jump into the book right that second.”

You
...more
Afton Nelson
Oct 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
My modern day sensitivities got in the way again when, in the last chapter of this book I read out loud to my boys, I started reading about peg leg Andy who wanted to commit suicide because he was plumb useless. Our dear narrator, little J.D. was just the type of pal to help him out too. I continued to read about the different ideas the boys came up with to do in Andy, and tried to figure out what I could make up to pretend the story was over and get out of reading the last 10 or so pages of the ...more
Trace
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
I rated this 4 stars and my son rated it 5 stars so we're agreeing upon a 4.5 star rating.

The entire time I read this book, I couldn't help but compare the unstructured childhood described in this book with today's highly structured children. The boys in this book experienced a freedom that is not found today.... sure they found themselves in hot water and made some lots of mistakes - but I loved reading about how they worked things out or learned their lessons by EXPERIENCING them....
There wo
...more
Laura
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book! I read this one to my children and we laughed through most of it and then I cried through the rest. One aspect that I really loved was how real it felt, like I was growing up right along side J.D. and Tom. I also loved the perspective of what it was like to grow up in a small Utah town and not be a Mormon. Being a Mormon myself, I had never really thought what it would be like to view of us from outside the religion. I thought it was done very fairly and many things were eyeop ...more
Kristen
Mar 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Want to learn how to charge people to see a toilet flush? Need to learn to swim, or walk with a peg leg? Find your way out of a dangerous cave? Get rid of a strict teacher? Ask the Great Brain, Thomas "T.D." Fitzgerald. Set in the early days of Utah statehood (1896)in southern Utah, John "J.D." Fitzgerald recounts the amazing and mind blowing stunts and escapades of he and his brothers, among the minority of Catholics in a predominantly Mormon community. When the "Great Brain" puts his mind to w ...more
Sara
Mar 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
Simply terrible.
Camie
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An old children's classic told by ten year old JD about the simple and humorous boyhood adventures encountered while growing up in 1896 with his older beloved brother Tom, The Great Brain. Tom is the older brother everyone should have, even though he mostly uses his " great brain" to figure out a way to make every situation most profitable for himself, he usually lets his little brother tag along for the adventure and in the end... surprises everyone by also having a great heart. I think all my ...more
Janssen
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, children, read-aloud
I LOVED this series as a child and re-reading it with my girls was just as fun as I hoped.
Neocortext
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
I got this book for my nephew, who's seven, after my sister told me he was reading chapter books now. Actually, it turns out he's not quite that advanced, but I figured he and his dad might enjoy reading these very funny books together anyway. When it arrived, I decided to reread a chapter or two to be sure it was as good as I remembered.

It was--oh, it was. But it was also very, very different, much more complex in its portrayal of ethics than I realized when I ordered it and, I think, perhaps a
...more
Dennis
May 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
I bought this one for my nephews out of nostalgia the other day, remembering having liked it as a kid. And so I thought I ought to reread it myself. It's not often one reads fiction set in 19th century Utah, and this is an interesting perspective from the Fitzgeralds--Sweyn, Tom and John--three Catholic boys who grew up circa 1896 in Utah's Dixie, in the small fictionalized Mormon town of Adenville (the author in fact was born and raised in Carbon County).

What I did not remember was the narcissi
...more
Amy
Jun 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, children
2017: I think I will always love this book no matter how many times I read it. Full review here: http://www.sunlitpages.com/2017/05/th...

2009: I'm still chuckling over some of T.D.'s antics. The two stories I really remembered from my first reading were the mumps and the near-suicide, and I can see why they stuck with me so vividly...after reading it again, they're still the best ones.
Elsha
Sep 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I'm on a children's book kick. Liked this book as a child and enjoyed as an adult. The little incidents are funny yet it's frustrating to see the "Great Brain" manipulate the situations into his favor. The "Great Brain" probably turned out to be very rich and was already conniving. A good, fun read.
Elevetha
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pretty much anyone
4 1\2 stars. Very funny. Excellent. 8+.
Alison Rogers
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kid-lit
My husband and I took turns reading this to our 7.5-year-old son. I vaguely remember reading this when I was little and it was fun for me to revisit it and introduce it to the rest of my family. It is set in the early 1900s in a small, rural Utah town. There is no major plot but is instead mostly small, vignette type stories of boyhood experiences that the main character had with his older brother and their group of friends. I am sure that many of the stories are taken from the author’s own chil ...more
Kim  Dennis
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was fun. I hadn't read this book since I was in elementary. There was only one thing in it that I remembered. At the time, I hadn't read Tom Sawyer. As I was listening to this book, I couldn't help but feel that Tom Fitzgerald was very much like Tom Sawyer. I know the books were loosely based on John Fitzgerald's life, but given the fact that the book was set in 1896 and he wasn't even born until 1906, I wish I knew how much of it was real and how much of it was fictitious. I will probably ...more
Heather
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved this series as a kid, and read it multiple times back then. 30 years later, I still find it to be an enjoyable read--a humorous, semi-autobiographical account (from a youngest child's perspective) of growing up in a non-Mormon family in 1890s Utah.
Scott
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children, re-read
Probably my 15th or 16th time re-reading the series - doing it as part of a group read.

Brilliant as always. This book is the best of the best of children's literature.
Betsy
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent, engaging story. Little kids would really enjoy Tom's money-making schemes and giggle out loud over J.D.'s crazy ideas
Laura Verret
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Move out the way, Encyclopedia Brown – here comes The Great Brain!

The Story.

I don’t know how my older brother does it. His name’s Tom D. Fitzgerald, but everyone calls him the Great Brain. Their calling him that isn’t what gets to me – it’s him having it. Somehow, he’s got a scheme for every situation – a way to solve a problem and get himself rich in the process. Why there was the time he charged kids one cent each to catch a glimpse of our new water closet (which we all thought was crazy but,
...more
twice_baked✌️
rtc but can I just say the JD-TD combo is the WORST brother pair you will ever read of. JD is the most thick-headed kid I've ever met and TD is the most annoying. But the stories are interesting and it did happen to the author - at least, some of it did. But it's still annoying that TD gets away with everything while JD gets away with nothing.
Ginnie
Great storytelling. Charming tales of a boy- swindler, reminiscent of Tom Sawyer.
Kasha
Nov 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: boy-books
Oh I really enjoyed this book and I wanted to give it 5 stars, but it had a few little issues. Before I go into the nitty gritty I have to say to my sister Nikki, YOU HAVE TO READ THIS! We have a favorite story from when we were little. My dad was the cheapest person any of us knew, and he took Nikki and I to MacDonalds one afternoon. When my mom took us we had always shared a happy meal, but somehow my sister talked my dad into letting us each get our own. And not only that, she was able to ord ...more
ABC
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: older-kids
We owned the boxed set of these books, and I devoured them. Loved them all, although my favorite book was the one where Tom (The Great Brain) goes to the academy. However, one of the most memorable things I read as a child was contained in this book. It is the part about Abie Glassman. His story was one that stayed with me forever.

Some things that I am thinking now as an adult:

These stories are WAY more mature than I remembered. There are stories about illness, suicide, death and so on. It is al
...more
Alexx Mahn
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is a very humorous and capturing book about a young boy who lived late in the 1800's and was the best swindler of anyone ever. Each chapter is another trick or Tom's own way of making money. His father is putting a bathroom into their house and he charged kids a penny each to come and watch. He saved his two friends who got lost in a cave outside the town by using his "big brain" to figure out where they were and get them out safely. Not all his schemes were good though. He also tried ...more
Michael Anson
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was a childhood favorite. Last Christmas I sent a copy to my nephews, and a week and a half ago, I decided I needed my very own copy to put on my bookshelves. It's set in Utah in the late 1800's, and despite being written in 1969, it is still in print, a testament to its staying power. Written from the perspective of J.D (John Dennis), the stories revolve primarily around his brother Tom--T.D. Something I didn't notice the first hundred times I read it is that J.D. is also the initials ...more
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OFFICIAL WEBSITE REFERENCED REPORTS:
John Dennis Fitzgerald was born in Price, Utah, on February 3, 1906, to Thomas and Minnie Melsen Fitzgerald. His father had a pharmacy degree but engaged in a number of business ventures and served on the Price Town Council for four years. John graduated from Carbon High School and at the age of eighteen and left Utah to pursue a career as a jazz drummer. He wo
...more

Other books in the series

The Great Brain (8 books)
  • More Adventures of the Great Brain (Great Brain, #2)
  • Me and My Little Brain (Great Brain, #3)
  • The Great Brain at the Academy (Great Brain, #4)
  • The Great Brain Reforms (Great Brain, #5)
  • The Return of the Great Brain (The Great Brain, #6)
  • The Great Brain Does it Again (The Great Brain, #7)
  • The Great Brain Is Back (The Great Brain, #8)