Sunday, April 22, 2018
  |  Login
Good books and people who love them.

The Great Brain


: John D. Fitzgerald

Illustrator: Mercer Mayer

SummaryThe Great Brain is set in the 1890's in a fictional small town in Utah. The stories are based on the author's childhood experiences and are told from the perspective of seven-year-old J.D., who is in awe of his older brother, Tom, alias "The Great Brain." Tom likes to use his "great brain" for his own financial gain, but he also uses it to rescue boys lost in a cave, to help a Greek immigrant boy assimilate, and to renew an amputee's interest in living. 
1967 Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers 175 pp ISBN 0-440-43071-2

First in a series which includes:

  • More Adventures of the Great Brain

  • Me and My Little Brain

  • The Great Brain at the Academy

  • The Return of the Great Brain

  • The Great Brain Does it Again

Reading  Level:  ages 9-12

Reviewed by: Derri Smith, July 2006

Our Angle
Our Angle

The Great Brain
is wonderfully written, sometimes hilariously funny, and gives a well-seasoned look at life in rural Utah in the 1890's. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

It does, however, have numerous cautionary aspects for parents to consider for children. Tom is greedy, and he takes advantage of others, including his little brother, in unethical ways. He does reform in the end, is not malicious, and one gets the feeling that he is a good boy at the core. Most parents would not, however, want their children to mimic many of Tom's actions.

Some situations might be intense for young readers. The death of a Jewish man from malnutrition was hard for this adult to read, and the chapter in which two boys are presumed hopelessly lost in a cave might be unsettling. The chapter in which J.D. attempts to help Andy kill himself was quite disturbing. I knew this was based on a true story, and I kept thinking that J.D. could have easily actually killed his friend. Parents will also want to consider whether they want their children reading about ways in which children might commit suicide.

Overall, this is a satisfying book. Parents are wise and revered, even if occasionally left in the dark about their children's antics. Townspeople are involved in each other's lives, even if they can be occasionally annoying in doing so. Some scenes, like the public unveiling of the town's first water closet (toilet) are very funny, as is the view of Tom through his adoring and naive little brother's eyes. It is a book our family enjoyed, but may not be for everyone. 

Noteworthy Content Available
What You Are Missing
  More Info

Become a Registered User, and you will find here many details of content in this book that you want to consider before handing it to a particular child, including moral issues, the scare factor, profanity, sex and romance, violence, how families are portrayed, educational tie-ins and other noteworthy issues.

These, the most detailed, factual parental book reviews available, equip you to decide what is right for your family.

See full sample reviews like those available to Registered Users:

A book with much to recommend:
A Girl of the Limberlost

A book with much to scrutinize:
Fahrenheit 451

What Is Your Angle?

If you are a Registered User, and you have read this book, then please share your angle with other site visitors. Remember, this is your opinion of the book, not your opinion of the BookAngles review. We reserve the right to remove opinions that are not civil, comments other than an opinion of the book or any other comments that seem unsuitable to the purpose of this feature. Comments are screened for appropriateness before they are published here.

If you are not a Registered User, then you cannot see or leave comments here. Click Register at the top of the page, and get started.

Our Books

We who bring you BookAngles also offer these popular child training aids through
Sweet Home Press:

Parents love
with Character

for teaching the art
of conversation.

Teens love
with Character
and so do their parents.

Sweet Home Press