Paul Dormer wrote:
> In article <***@amsu.fallenpegasus.com>,
> ***@mark.atwood.name (Mark Atwood) wrote:
>>Some books I really enjoyed as a kid were the books
>>about Homer Price,
>>Henry Reed, the Mad Scientists Club, the Great Brain.
>>Does this genre have a name? What are some other
>>books/series in this
>>genre? (And I mean more specific then just "juvi" or
>>A similar series that is both in that genre, and in SF,
>>are the Danny
> The only name I recognise on this list is Danny Dunn - they were
> available in my children's library in the north of England in the early
I don't recognize the Great Brain offhand, but the other three there are
huge favorites of mine. I read one or two Danny Dunns, and they weren't
bad, but they didn't move me to finish the series.
Henry Reed wrote in the first person, and his accounts of summer
vacations and road trips were worth re-reading and still get space on my
shelves. The illustrations by Robert McCloskey added to the enjoyment.
He was inquisitive and inventive, and his friend Midge's initiative got
them into amusing situations.
McCloskey wrote and illustrated Homer Price, a classic series of a quiet
boyhood in a quiet town where sometimes bizarre events unfolded, like a
giant ragweed or an unstoppable mania for singing an all-too-catchy
song. Memorable as the big episodes were, the smaller ones got right to
the heart of small-town life. Centerburg, the location of the stories,
has a pageant to commemorate the history of the town, which had
originally been called Edible Fungus in honor of a fortuitous find that
saved the lives of the first settlers. So, on anniversary occasions, a
choir would sing a song written by a music teacher:
"Forty pounds of edible fungus
In the wilderness a-growin'..."
The Mad Scientists Club was even more edgy, with its cast of boy
geniuses contrasted with the staid and unimaginative town authorities.
Their conversations sound rather similar to fan chat, and their schemes
(including hatching a dinosaur egg, which seems to have been turned into
a major motion picture, with or without credit to the books) are real
page turners. They were originally presented as short stories in _Boy's
Life_. It's worth searching them online, because the author actually
wrote a novel about the group that wasn't published until recently, and
it's available through a web page supervised by, I believe, his son.
(Note to self: Order the book!) I'm thinking it was "about to come out"
last time I looked, and that was a while ago.
I'll say it again: A *new* Mad Scientists Club novel!
All of these are still in my bookshelf, lovingly read and enjoyed. Homer
Price came out in an omnibus edition at Barnes and Noble a while back,
and I got all the stories in a cardboard cover along with some stories
of Homer's Grampa Hercules. Best of all, the illustrations look much
better than they do in my oft-reprinted Arrow Books editions from grade
school. They look more like the original I saw at the Chrysler Museum's
exhibition of children's book art a few years ack.
Though these were big favorites of mine, I don't know if they're all in
the same genre. Henry Reed is more a slice of life without fantastic
elements. The Mad Scientists are mostly grounded in reality with an
engineering sensibility (Brinley was a rocket scientist). Danny Dunn was
more of a fantasy, and Homer Price occasionally dabbled in the
fantastic. If anything, they're something like training wheels for an
eventual enjoyment of SF and/or fantasy.
I'm not sure what else I'd put in a similar class. Freddy the Pig was an
introduction to elements of SF, fantasy (talking animals!), poetry,
detection, and others. The books of Edward Eager are fantasy that happen
to children who are quick to try and figure things out and whose
conversations are a lot of the fun. Joan Aiken's alternate histories
were real mind openers (I didn't like it as much when the series turned
toward fantasy, but I was also older then).
I liked a Professor Branestawm story, "The Screaming Clocks," which was
in an anthology we got from Grandma. I used to enthuse over it to Gordon
Garb, and he managed to dig up a whole collection of Branestawm tales.
It turned out that the one I'd read first was his best, but I'd give it
another whack now and see if things seem any different.
Seems like there are more series like these than ever these days, though
far more in the fantasy realm than sf or techie. Maybe there's an