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Wednesday, January 4, 2012
The Great Brain
For those of you who are not familiar with the aforementioned illuminato, the Great Brain is a fictionalized version of the brother of the author of the series of the same name, John Fitzgerald. John grew up in central Utah in a family where his mother was a Mormon and his father was Catholic. He also wrote a book called Papa Married a Mormon
In all, seven books of the Great Brain series were published and they were illustrated by Mercer Mayer. Unfortunately, most of them are out of print and are also pretty pricey on Ebay and Amazon. Luckily the first three of the series are still in print so I ordered them for my sons. Because my sons seem to hate anything that I introduce to them, I assume they are suspicious that anything I like has a mathematical theory somewhere in it, I ended up reading the book myself.
The Great Brain, Tom, spends his days and nights dreaming of ways to scheme the local children his age out of their allowances. He spends as much time swindling his brother John as he does on the rest of the city. Once in a while, such as the time when Tom saves some of his peers who are lost in a cave, his great brain has ideas that are socially beneficial as well.
When I was younger I loved the books for the stories, I too dreamed of becoming a small time con man and making money the easy way. Now I value the books for the good background of small town Utah society. It brings me back to a time when you know who the "non-members" (of the Mormon Church) were on your street. If you even had any, you actually knew who they were in your local "ward"area so anyone who wasn't a member within a five block radius was pretty well identified. John's mixed religion family is interesting and even if it's an idealized portrayal of childhood, it's nice to see that his parents seemed to get along.
For me this series was a nice literary trip back to childhood. What book from childhood would you like to re-read? Put in a comment below and tell me about it!