The Complete Great Brain Series

shelved under Children's Books

The "Great Brain" Series was always one of my favorites when I was home sick from school. They were set in a very different time and place (1890s Mormon Utah) so I suppose they were as much of an escape as one could imagine.

Start with the first and I'm confident you'll read them all.

P.S. If anyone out there is in the publishing industry, drop me a line and explain to me how gems such as these could go out of print... and why only some of them — in the middle of the series no less — are the ones out of print.


#1: The Great Brain

by John D. Fitzgerald

Lauren from Ithaca, NY says:

This entire series is absolutely ideal for young boys reading at a higher reading level. As a girl, I grew up reading many books with strong female central characters. I loved L'Engle, Ingalls, Alcott, Nesbit, etc. As a mom, I had no ideas for books of a similar nature, only for boys. The Great Brain series was a perfect match. Not fluffy, yet humorous. No overly simplistic language, but not dense in the slightest sense. The characters and their adventures carry you though the books (which is always a great sign, yes?) and leave you wanting more. The reading level is fairly high (6th grade perhaps?) — but the content is perfectly appropriate for a younger reader (3rd or 4th grade). Absolutely Flashlight Worthy.


#3: Me and My Little Brain

by John D. Fitzgerald

I have to say, I think this one may have been my favorite. It's hard to relate to T.D., the titular "Great Brain". On the other hand, his little brother J.D. is an "everyman" (everyboy?) so a book that focuses solely on his adventures and mishaps while his brother is away was a refreshing change.


#4: The Great Brain at the Academy

by John D. Fitzgerald

This one was also a nice change of pace. With T.D., the "Great Brain" away at boarding school he's taken down a notch or two. He prevails in the end of course (sorry to give it away!) but still, his dose of humility was welcome.


#5: The Great Brain Reforms

by John D. Fitzgerald

Chris Jones from Lehi, UT says:

The Great Brain shows that he's more than just grey matter. T.D. Fitzgerald gets wrapped up in his most dangerous caper ever, but in the end discovers that what he feels might be more satisfying than what he thinks. Of all the series, this one was my favorite.


#6: The Return of the Great Brain

by John D. Fitzgerald

den from quezon city says:

Tom Fitzgerald, alias The Great Brain, is back, struggling to stay reformed now that his friends have threatened to ostracize him if he pulls even one more swindle. But his brother J.D. knows Tom's reformation is too good to be true, and as a reformed Great Brain makes for a dull life, J.D. is not altogether unhappy when his brother's money-loving heart stealthily returns to business as usual. Under the watchful eyes of parents and friends, Tom has to be craftier than ever, and indeed he is. Whether he's cleverly pulling an out-and-out swindle so as not to be caught or solving a train robbery and murder, he was so risktaker. Tom's Great Brain never fails.


#7: The Great Brain Does It Again

by John D. Fitzgerald

While there's now an eighth book (see below) this was the final book in the series when I read it. Unfortunately, it had a bit of that feel as well. The adventures were a bit threadbare and the plot veers from its usual course.


#8: The Great Brain Is Back

by John D. Fitzgerald

Note that this book was published posthumously from notes left behind by the author. Having read it, it's a nice piece of nostalgia and a must-read for any fan of the original seven Great Brain books... but it's definitely not quite as good as the others.

This book also appears on Peter Steinberg's Reading List