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Amazon Observations
Bar Harbor
Since I recently gave a high rating to (the early) Mad Scientist Club books, Amazon has started recommending to me all sorts of other books that I loved when I was roughly the age I discovered those at. The Alvin Fernald series, the Great Brain series, Homer Price, a few others. Not sure how many of them I'll buy, but I was amused by the clarity of the correlation :-)

It might be just my imagination, but I think Amazon is being insidiously clever with their discount pricing. They offer free shipping for orders over $25, and if your current order is less than that, they tell you how much you need to add to make up the difference. I get the impression that their discount structure is designed to create lots of books in the $11-12 price range, so that 2 isn't *quite* enough, and also a lot in the $7-8 band, so that if you're in that price range, 3 won't do it. Entirely anecdotal, and maybe imaginary, but there it is.

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The Alvin Fernald series, the Great Brain series, Homer Price, a few others

This is getting downright interesting. I too loved the Mad Scientist Club (I only knew the one volume at the time), Alvin Fernald (and the Beans), Homer Price (didn't notice the pattern of names until years later, embarrassed to say). But I don't recognize a "Great Brain" series; can you give me a hint?

Hmmm, what else did I read in those days? Encyclopedia Brown, the "...Adventure" series (brothers encounter wildlife in the Amazon, the South Seas, the Ruwenzori Range, usw), I'm sure there were more. (And I'm not counting perennials like Sherlock Holmes or the Hardy Boys.) I wonder what my mom may not have thrown out yet...

The Great Brain series are about the adventures of a unusually smart (and trouble-making) kid with that nickname, plus some compatriots, narrated by either his best friend, or possibly brother, I forget which. Set in early 20th century Utah, with Mormon stuff occasionally being part of the plot. IIRC, of course.

I don't recall running into "...Adventure" stories, but I also read the others on your list. Do "Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators" count as perennials?

Now that memories are being brought forth, I'm surprised that the Danny Dunn books didn't show up in my Amazon recommendations...

Danny Dunn!!! How could I have forgotten? (Great Brain still doesn't jog any memories; there were bound to be some differences.)

One thing about the DD books always puzzled me: every book had a statement to the effect that "Professor Bullfinch didn't look like a typical scientist." He wore glasses and tweed jackets, and his hair was always a mess and his clothes were always rumpled - what did a typical scientist look like in those days, if not precisely that?

Dang. Emphasis was supposed to be just on did.

I loved the Great Brain books. The narrator was his younger brother. When the Great Brain went off to boarding school, the result was Me And My Little Brain.

I think my favorite Danny Dunn book was Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine. The Professor builds a computer, and Danny uses it to do his homework. Of course, when I was 7, I didn't appreciate the vast amount of natural language processing involved here, but hey. There was a great numbers-geek bit. To paraphrase:

Irene: "Danny, remember, you promised the Professor that, before you tried any wild idea, you'd count to a million by thousands."

Danny: "OK. Now, adding is just a fast way of counting, right? And multiplying is just a fast way of adding. So: one thousand times one thousand is one million. There, I just counted to a million by thousands."

Alvin Fernald Books

Alexx --

I'm glad you liked the Alvin Fernald series. The author, Clifford Hicks, is still around and some of the books have recently gone back into print. I'm sure my dad would enjoy hearing directly from you! See for more information.

Gary Hicks
Son #3

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