John Dennis Fitzgerald is telling the story of his childhood just like Laura Ingalls Wilder did in Little House in the Big Woods. He grew up in Adenville, Utah with his brothers Tom Dennis and Sweyn Dennis, his Aunt Bertha, and his parents. His brother Tom Dennis (or T.D. as they called him) always had smart ideas to swindle people or bright ideas to make money. Because of that everybody called him The Great Brain and he loved every minute of it. This book tells the story of all of The Great Brain’s schemes and adventures. When Fred Harvey the plumber comes in to the Fitzgerald backyard to install a water closet (a toilet inside of a home) T.D. finds a way to make money out of it. Or when his mother starts to make ice cream he charges kids a penny to get some.
When Frank and Allen Jensen and their dog, Lady, get lost in a cave T.D. has an idea that is sure to get them out! Or when T.D. decides to mate his dog, Brownie, and his friend’s dog, Lady, he starts selling the puppies for one whole silver dollar! When Basil, a Greek boy, comes to town T. D. teaches him how to fight the other kids so he loses the nickname, wimp. The best thing he thought he did was helping poor Andy (a boy with a peg leg). He taught him how to run, and do his chores for nothing in return. If he wouldn’t have helped, Andy would have committed suicide. T.D. even helped get rid of the new mean teacher, Mr. Standish. Mr. Standish had replaced old Miss Thatcher – an old school teacher who was the best! T.D. got help from the other kids as they put whiskey bottles in Mr. Standish’s desk and in his coat pocket. He was fired, but then they all told the truth. For that T.D. got the silent treatment from his parents, but he still had his “pals” to count on and a brain full of ideas to solve other people’s problems and make money!