Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The Great Brain
good boys as main characters -- boys who are smart and not alienated or disaffected. Megan at Inhabiting Books recommended The Great Brain series and I finally began reading the first one to N. this summer after we finished the last Swallows and Amazons book (boo-hoo). Two books in, we are really enjoying them! Tom D. Fitzgerald, the eponymous Great Brain, is not exactly a good boy; he regularly outsmarts kids into making deals with him that are against their own interest, for example. But I love the books (which are at least partly autobiographical) because they raise complex ethical issues that are not easily resolvable. I had hoped N. would choose to read the books himself but now I'm glad I'm reading them aloud so we can discuss the incidents together. For example, N. was perplexed and saddened by the death of the lone Jewish inhabitant of the predominantly Mormon Utah frontier town and we talked about why he refused to ask for assistance and why his distress went unnoticed. A chapter called "The Taming of Britches Dotty" led to discussion of gendered social norms then (1890s) and now. The dynamics of the Fitzgerald family are complex and interesting too. Lots of great stuff to think over together. Thanks to Megan for reminding me of these books, which I'd heard of but never read myself.