Thursday, May 26, 2011

The JUV FIC Corner presents "The Great Brain"

I loved reading when I was a kid just as much as I do now. You're looking at (the webpage of) the Electronic Bookshelf/Accelerated Reader class champ from grades 4 to 6. I used to check out more books from the public library than I could carry! So needless to say, JUV FIC holds a special place in my heart, because it's what led me to love books.

During my most recent library visit, I decided to take a stroll down the children's aisles and pick up some of my childhood favorites. And because I'm perpetually in a blogging rut, I decided this blog needed something new. So here begins a special feature, in which I will post every now and then on some awesome JUV FIC, new or old, and we can discuss!

  • Did you read these books? 
  • What do you remember most about them? 
  • Do you think these books would stand the test of time if you read them again? 
  • What JUV FIC books do you want to read/re-read? (The glorious thing about reading JUV FIC as an adult is that you can read them pretty damn fast.)

The first on my list is The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald. The Great Brain is the first in an eight-book series (though I seem to recall they can each stand alone). Set in Utah in 1896, these books follow J.D. and his older brother Tom (aka, The Great Brain) and their day-to-day hijinks as Tom consistently tries to swindle his friends and neighbors and solve problems with elaborate plots thought up by, yes, his great brain.

One thing that struck me now that I didn't notice then...these stories take place in a very unique setting. Most of the townspeople are Mormon, but there are a number of Catholics, Protestants, and Jews as well. Basically, it's a very diverse town in terms of religion and lifestyle, and I never noticed as a kid how big of a role that plays in the stories.

I recalled these books containing some kind of moral objective for rambunctious kids who eventually "learn their lesson," but they're definitely not has obvious as I remember! In fact, I was a little surprised at how sly and scheming the Great Brain is...and he usually gets away with it. I didn't expect this since we live in a society that initially criticized "The Simpsons" because Bart disobeys his parents. But in reality (like it or not, parents!), kids think this way. And I think The Great Brain books are really accessible for their target audience. They're written from a kids' perspective; they're funny; and yes, they have some personal growth and lesson-learning involved. There's value there for readers, and this one was still entertaining to me, 15 years later.

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