The Great Brain Does It Again, by John D. Fitzgerald, was published in 1975 by Dial.
Here he goes again! Tom, a.k.a. the Great Brain, comes up with many more schemes, most of them concerned with earning money.
I really don’t know how Fitzgerald keeps coming up with original stories for this series. The Great Brain Does it Again is a familiar mix of Tom the Exasperating and Tom the Helper incidents, with the Great Brain being praised just as much as he is criticized for his antics. Though there are new stories, the core of the book is the same as the others, and Tom is equal parts frustrating and brilliant, as always.
One of the best moments in this book doesn’t revolve around the Great Brain. The story of Frankie and his missing rocking horse is heartwarming and a great lesson of sacrifice and sharing. Too bad Tom makes it worse at the end, but the contrast is striking and highlights just how crass Tom can be at times. Of course, we can’t have a bad!Tom story without having a good!Tom story, like how he catches the people swindling the Indians because he does have some good morals underneath all that greed.
I do feel as if Tom gets in trouble a little more in this book than in others. His schemes rightly get called out by his father and he rightly gets punished for them. And then, there’s the great chapter at the end that details J.D.’s horror that Tom might actually be growing up and putting his swindling ways behind him, perhaps even starting to—gasp!—date girls. It’s a good reminder that the reader, in a way, is like J.D.—hating Tom’s swindles, yet thinking life is boring without them. The thought of a normal Great Brain is as strange to us as it is to J.D.
There’s only one more book in the series, and I’m looking forward to it, not only because I think it will be a little more different now that Tom is hard at work doing more responsible things, but also because it is the end of a series that has gotten a little tiring.
Recommended Age Range: 8+
Genre: Historical Fiction, Children’s
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