Series Week IX (The Great Brain): More Adventures of the Great Brain

More Adventures of the Great Brain, by John D. Fitzgerald, was published in 1969 by Puffin.

Has Tom Fitzgerald, a.k.a. the Great Brain, given up his con-artist ways for a bicycle? Not for long. Soon the Great Brain is back to his old tricks, swindling and trading, even convicing the whole town there’s a prehistoric monster on the loose. The citizens of Adenville, Utah, can count on the Great Brain’s genius, from finding the ghost of Silverlode to helping Britches Dotty act like a lady. Then someone robs the bank, and even the police are stumped. Can the Great Brain solve the crime and put the crooks behind bars?

Rating: 4/5

More Adventures of the Great Brain brings back the outrageous schemes of Tom, narrated by the ever-innocent, completely gullible JD. While the first book dwelt more on Tom’s swindling of kids, as well as some of his stunts that involved adults, this second book focuses a little more on the times when Tom falters.

It’s good that Fitzgerald knocks his hero down a peg or two at times, because otherwise Tom’s antics would be unbearable. Someone who gets away with everything and is always outsmarting everybody else makes for not only a boring hero, but also an unrealistic story. However, Fitzgerald includes enough humble pie for Tom to eat that it makes his true successes stand out even more. His underhanded negotiation to get money out of doing a good thing for Dotty is followed by his selfless devotion to his father. The devastation Tom feels after “scooping” his father’s newspaper is followed by his heartwarming funeral arrangement of a beloved dog. Tom is more flawed, and thus more human, in this book, yet he also accomplishes some of his best moments.

I am looking forward to the book where JD comes into his own, because at the moment he is so gullible it is difficult to feel sorry for him when he falls for Tom’s tricks. He has a tendency to make things worse for himself by opening his mouth. The end of this book sets up the next, by sending Tom off to school (the book which covers that, by the way, is probably my favorite), and leaving JD feeling like he can step into his brother’s shoes easily, and you can already tell that things aren’t going to work out that way.

More Adventures of the Great Brain brings back Tom’s swindling antics, but humanizes him more than the first book, giving him failures to remind both the reader and himself that he’s still just a kid, but also heartwarming successes to show that even swindlers can do good things. In this book, Fitzgerald seems to be saying that a great brain, put to a good use, is a good thing to have, but a great brain put to bad use is damaging to everyone. It’s a theme he will repeat later on in the series, and it’s a great message to include.

Recommended Age Range: 8+

Warnings: None. 

Genre: Historical Fiction, Children’s

You can buy this here:

One thought on “Series Week IX (The Great Brain): More Adventures of the Great Brain

  1. Pingback: Series Week IX (The Great Brain): The Great Brain Reforms | Leaf's Reviews

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