The Great Brain

Our rating: ****

In the small town of Adenville, Utah, in the 1800s, John’s older brother Tom has a great brain. Tom is always doing something smart, like finding two lost boys, or helping an immigrant boy learn English. But Tom also uses his great brain to think up money making schemes.

The blurb on the back of this book states that John D. Fitzgerald based the story of The Great Brain on his childhood in Adenville, Utah. I have no idea how much of the book is true, and how much the author made up. I do know that The Great Brain is a wonderful look at American life in the 19th century. Every chapter can stand on it’s own, each being a separate “episode” in Tom’s life. Unfortunately, the final chapter contains a large part about a boy with a peg leg who wants to kill himself, as he thinks he is useless. Although Tom stops him from carrying out his plans, parents may wish to discuss this chapter with their children.