When I was a kid, I loved John D. Fitzgerald’s The Great Brain series. So I thought I would revisit it to see if I had any taste whatsoever when I was a youngster. I couldn’t find the original The Great Brain nor my favorite, The Great Brain at the Academy. But I did find More Adventures of the Great Brain.
For those of you who do not know these books, they tell the story of the Fitzgeralds, a Catholic family living in Utah around the turn of the 19th century. The star is Tom (TD), the middle child, who is a very smart con artist. Most of the books are told in the first person by the youngest, John (JD). The books are highly episodic with a vague story arc. Think Cannery Row.
I am pleased to report that at least this book is very good. I suspect that when I was younger I found them a good deal more clever than I do now. But they strike me now as far more charming that I thought they were. I’m surprised they aren’t more popular today. They will certainly appeal to smart kids—or at least kids who think they’re smart.
Update (23 June 2012)
I was wrong, all of the Great Brain books are written from little John’s perspective. I just got The Great Brain at the Academy and it is told as though J.D. is learning all about what happened from Tom’s letters and then telling the reader.