The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread: A novel by Don Robertson.
Every writer is a reader. We LOVE words. We love to discover new words or new ways to use old words. Many of us had a mentor who introduced us to the bliss of reading.
My sister taught me that if I had a book to read, I would never be alone. She was eleven years older and out on her own by the time I was eight years old. I used to love spending time at her apartment in a nearby town. She would take me to the library or read with me at home. We took turns reading chapters aloud.
One of the books we shared ended up being one of my favorites of all time. The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread by Don Robertson. The author takes his main character, nine-year-old Morris Bird III through the streets of Cleveland in 1944. Our young hero embarks on a fateful journey in search of his best friend whose family had moved to the other side of town. Unfortunately, Morris’s mother catches him before he gets too far, reminding him that he’s supposed to take care of his little sister. Grudgingly, Morris takes her, along with a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter.
During the course of their adventure, the reader is introduced to a number of other characters and subplots who will eventually be thrown together when a gas tank explosion rocks Cleveland.
The beauty of this novel is that the action doesn’t happen until the final chapters, but the author keeps the reader engrossed in the story as he develops his various characters. Of course, the book isn’t about the disaster, as much as it is about young Morris and his courage as he rises to the occasion of being a hero—dubbed The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread by one of the people he resues.
The Greatest Think Since Sliced Bread is a terrific first adult novel for the very young adult, twelve years old or so. The graphic descriptions of the explosion and the burn victims might be disturbing for younger readers, however, and parental discretion is advised. Stephen King says that he has this wonderful novel on the shelf next to The Outsiders and Catcher in the Rye. I believe it’s more than worthy to stand beside such great titles.
The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread was first released in the early sixties, which is when I first read it with my sister. I must have been around ten years old at the time. It had been out of print for many years. When Robertson passed away in 1999, his estate re-released GTSSB to another generation. Robertson wrote two sequels featuring Morris Bird II: The Sum and Total of Now and The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened, which became a movie.