Going, going gone! With the Pain and the Great One (a review)

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Going, Going, Gone! with Pain & the Great One (a review)

The prospect of reading a whole book can sometimes be a little daunting to young readers; especially as they progress and the pictures that help them decode the words become smaller and appear less often. Chapter books help to break stories into readable, achievable pieces and, hopefully, the story is so compelling and thrilling that readers can’t help but keep going to the end. Sometimes though, this may still seem like hard work.

For those who are building up their reading strength, a book like Going, Going, Gone! is ideal. Gathered within it are seven short stories featuring the adventures of the Pain and the Great One. Readers can ‘dip’ in and out of the book and read each story as they choose – one at a time, in order or at random, or the whole thing from start to finish. Each story in this lovely book is accompanied by wonderful, lively ink sketches that complement story scenes, and help keep the reader engaged.

The first two segments introduce us to Jake (the Pain) and Abigail (the Great One), brother and sister, and typical siblings who annoy each other most of the time, but support and love each other as well. They bicker and tease in a way all parents will recognize, but they can also share, work together, and do the right thing: “But how would I feel if the Pain saw alligators and didn’t tell me? Not that the Pain has ever kept a secret in his entire life. But still, it would be so unfair. So I pointed.”

After the introduction chapters, the characters each tell three stories of their adventures; at home, the fun park, the beach, and on holiday at Grandpa’s hoping to see swamp alligators. The title of each story is accompanied with a character portrait which indicates who is telling the story and helps to avoid reader confusion. In the story ‘Kapooie’, both characters tell a part of the tale; in the first part, we hear the Great One’s perspective and in the second, we hear what the Pain was getting up to on the same outing. This shared point of view provides a good demonstration of how different characters can view the same situation (also a useful thing to consider in real life).

The final story of the book is actually a poem, written from the family cat’s point of view, and offers a fun change of pace while introducing the reader to a different style of creative writing.

There is much to enjoy in this mini-anthology – the adventures of the Pain and the Great One are everyday adventures that girls and boys, and Moms and Dads will be able to relate to and chuckle over. The short stories are fun and achievable for all levels of mid-grade readers. Once you have finished, you will also be able to read more about these two characters in Judy Blume’s other books: look for Soupy Saturdays with the Pain and the Great One and Cool Zone with the Pain and the Great Oneand the picture book titled The Pain and the Great One.

  • Author: Judy Blume
  • Illustrator: James Stevenson
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House) 2008
  • ISBN: 978-0-385-73307-6
About Vanessa Hatley-Owen

A book lover and children's story writer from New Zealand.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” - Dr Seuss.


  1. I loved Judy Blume when I was growing up. I’ll have to introduce these to my daughter. I bet she’d enjoy them, as well.

  2. Judy Blume is a great author. She knows how to keep kids reading! Thanks for the review.

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