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The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  896 ratings  ·  186 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
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 22nd 2008 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1965)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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 ·  896 ratings  ·  186 reviews


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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 ...more
Carol
Sep 12, 2009 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
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Bri | bribooks
Feb 13, 2017 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
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Mark
Jul 24, 2008 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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Andi
Dec 03, 2008 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
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Daniel Polansky
An elementary school student takes a long walk through a small city to visit a friend, in this charming, funny, nostalgic depiction of youth in middle America. It does an excellent job of recapitulating the peculiar mental state of childhood, its obsessive tendencies and strange rituals, and I found myself in uncanny agreement with the protagonist's moral code – keep to your word, never steal marbles, and be extra nice to the weird kids. Lots of fun.
Michele
Dec 07, 2016 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.
Gaye Larsen
Jun 22, 2008 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 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
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Rachel
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not a huge fan of this. We spend 167 pages walking to a friend's house. Then the remaining 44 pages dealing with the aftermath of an event. Yes the writing is done well, which is why I gave it a 2 instead of a 1, but there was some things I just couldn't forgive. Also there are no chapters, and one paragraph goes on for literally 11 pages.
Vicki
A (fictional) 9-year-old boy becomes a hero in a (real) industrial disaster in Cleveland in 1944.
Ellie
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How had I not heard of this book before?
Jason Bastian
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorites.
Theresa Maher
Jul 03, 2008 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 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 ...more
Sarah
Feb 11, 2009 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
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Anna
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a sweet sweet story about Morris Bird III and his little journey of self-respect that ended up being a huge one of courage that he didn't intend. LOVE.
John
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shortly before his death on his seventieth birthday in March of 1999, Don Robertson said to two of his friends as they departed his home, "Hey, don't forget me, you guys." Unfortunately and sadly, being forgotten has mostly happened to this writer who Stephen King has stated was his inspiration. At this time, out of his 18 published novels, only his three Morris Bird books, The Greatest Thing since Slice Bread being the first, are still in print.

The Greatest Thing since Slice Bread is
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Devonne West
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I came across this book and thought, "Interesting. Maybe worth reading??" As I began reading some of the reviews, one person wrote that she saw an interview with Stephen King where he said this was his favorite book. "What kind of book does Stephen King like? I'm reading it." And so the story begins...
This is a fiction story written around the worst industrial accident in American history - the Cleveland East Ohio Gas explosion. It is a look into the life of a small boy in the 1940's and what
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Mon & Gian
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the best feelings there is is the accomplishing of something that is difficult. It's something that'syours. It's something that no one can take away from you. And it's brave too, very brave. Determination means courage, and courage means you're a real person. -Don Robertson, The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

G & M: We love how Robertson played with the language in this book- it read with childlike wonder and perspective of the world. The story of what the children were able to
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Jim
Jul 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Although apparently a classic, it didn't completely win me over. It had some funny parts and overall it was ok, but I hated the use of complete names over and over, as well as other repetition. It does provide some insights into domestic life near the end of WWII in America, somewhat innocent yet transitional. I liked that I got most of the references, which some readers without a little historical background might miss.
Betsy Gant
Jul 04, 2017 rated it liked it
This book has an interesting writing style and story line. It's written from the perspective of a 9 year old boy. After reading this historical fiction, I know a lot more about the 1944 industrial disaster in Cleveland. It was bit difficult to follow the train of thought, but I usually find 1st person narratives difficult to follow anyway. It was a fun read, and I'm glad my friend loaned this book to me!
Jane
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Terrific book; I read this in a single sitting! Morris Bird III, 9 yrs old, sets out to walk 4 miles to visit his best friend who moved away the previous summer. The book tells what led up to Morris’ decision to make the trip and what happened that day – October 20, 1944 - the day that East Ohio Gas’ liquid gas tanks leaked and then exploded in Cleveland.

Note: this is a novel, but the events of October 20, 1944 and the gas tank explosion in Cleveland are true.
Susan Roden
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. Inhaled it.
Was a pleasant surprise to me. So many stories are being told, and not until the end do they all come together. I love this style of story-telling. Some of the stories seem so dis-jointed as the novel unfolds, but they mesh beautifully by the end.
Not a long book, and well worth the time spent.
This book would make a fine movie, too.
Becky
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is based on true historical events. It is charming, harkening back to a forgotten era of steadfastness, courage, patriotism, and family values. the author gives a good description of the America of 1944 -- a melting pot of ethnicities and immigrants. This book made me laugh and cry and choke up. One word: heroism.
Jeanie
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Don Robertson is the author of my favorite book of all time PRAISE THE HUMAN SEASON, reading TGTSSB brings back what I love about the author. The feelings are expressed, the heroic human nature is addressed even in one so young as 9.
Romi
May 12, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a sweet slice of life story of a boy coming of age around the time of World War II nut I need more action than character sketch. Beautifully written...just not my cup of tea right now in life.
Dorothy Hynous
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Loved the story. Great moral and character message. Sometimes confusing due to lack of composition. The writer did not make use of paragraphs frequently.
Sharon
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book builds from a simplistic childlike story to a deeply moving story of devastation and loss.
Christine Kuhar
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book 30 years ago and had been looking for a copy ever since. It was reprinted in 2008. Love the story.
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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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“...in those days (the 19th century) the children sometimes had to walk miles to school. And I mean miles. Have any of you walked even so much as one mile? I doubt it. Not that I blame you . Why walk when you can go wherever you want in a streetcar or a bus? Only stupid people walk when they can ride. Isn't that right? Isn't that what people are always telling you? Feet were invented before wheels, but so what? Getting somewhere on wheels is more comfortable, and that's what progress is all about, isn't that so? But is comfort all that good? Doesn't comfort maybe make us lazy? That's something to think about isn't it? What I mean is--we all want to accomplish something. That's the secret of what everything's all about--this business of wanting to accomplish something. But if everything is made too easy for us, how can we accomplish? I mean really accomplish. The more things we have helping us, the harder the accomplishing. We get too spoiled. We give up too easily...” 0 likes
“...one of the best feelings there is is the accomplishing of something that's difficult. It's something that's yours. It's something no one can take away from you. And it's brave too, very brave. Determination means courage, and courage means you're a real person. And it doesn't have to be the most earth shattering act either. It could be telling yourself you're going to walk a mile and then going out and walking it. Or telling yourself I'm not going to chew gum for a week and then keeping your word to yourself. This is called dignity. it helps your self respect...” 0 likes
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