Thank You Danny Dunn! by (4 Stories)

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Thank you Danny Dunn!

Thank you Danny Dunn.  Thank you Scholastic Books.  Thank you Dad.

I’ve always loved to read.   Throughout elementary school, and especially in third grade, the best days were when the teacher handed out the scholastic books newsletter with an order form.  That year, I got two books. Both were, and likely remain, my favorite books of all time.  Do you remember the Danny Dunn series?  I owned Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine and Danny Dunn and the Anti-gravity machine.  In the first Danny Dunn cleverly creates a machine to do all his homework.  In the second, he creates, a machine to eliminate the gravity we are confined to.  They both capture, in my view, a powerful imagination and the will to innovate; albeit with a slight tinge of subversiveness.  I’m not so clever to have ever created any innovation so bold and exciting.  But, together they captured my love of innovation, and admittedly, a desire to challenge the rules.  I can see how they inspired, or at least portended, my future career in cutting edge of genetics/genomics.

Though the slim paper backs are long gone, I was able to harvest hard copies of each a decade ago and so Danny Dunn is now with me for life.  Could I ask for anything more? I don’t think so

Profile photo of Carol Isaacson Barash Carol Isaacson Barash

Characterizations: funny, moving, right on!, well written


  1. Wonderful Carol! I don’t remember Danny Dunn but do remember the Scholastic Books and those order forms, and the lesson that books were of value and well-worth ordering!

    As you have the Danny Dunn hard copies, why not post a cover photo as your featured image?

  2. Jim Willis says:

    Carol, I almost always learn something new reading Retro stories, and I certainly did with yours today. I’ve never heard of the Danny Dunn series, but it looks like I missed out on some neat childhood adventure stories. The first one about the homework machine actually came true for students today, of course. It’s called ChatGPT and similar other AI sites that kids are using. Yuk! Anyway, while you were reading about Danny, I was reading about the Boxcar Kids and their adventures. Ever hear of them?

    • Yes, you can call AI the homework machine, but with the caveat that AI is also the teacher, who most likely isn’t going to give you a list of scholastic books to order. yes for $55k tuition, excluding room & board you can send you kid to Harvard only for them to take 2 classes taught by computers. hmmmm. Who would have thought AI would put professors out of work? There are already enough colleges that are shutting their doors for good and departments that are doing the same, like my old department- philosophy. I must sound like one of those old people yacking about how horrible the world has become- haha??

  3. Khati Hendry says:

    I never knew about Danny Dunn, but the books sound perfect to nurture a sense of adventure, invention and possibilities. Good on you for pursuing those passions!

  4. Charles says:

    Thanks, Carol… I don’t know the Danny Dunn, but you intrigued me, as Danny did you, with the power of his wishes AND his ability to implement his dreams. I don’t know what vintage Danny hailed from, but I do appreciate your focus on kids’ stories. We were so open at that age, and many of us read copiously. Thanks for taking us back to kid land!

  5. Hey Charles,
    Great news!! You can buy these still! I just bought myself a second copy of both so I’d have in Boston, the books are currently at my place in Maine, hence the inability to post a photo. And I bought another copy of both for my grandsons! AND, I realized- to my surprise that there are even more Danny Dunn books in a series!!!. This is what I love about this site- the ability to tap into all those childhood memories that boomers have, regardless of where ever they grew up. Happy reading!

  6. As someone who taught children’s literature at the university level, and who has taught picturebooks to adults in lifelong learning classes, I am so happy that you are proud to name works of children’s literature as influential books in your life. Brava! But I have to admit that I am unfamiliar with these characters. Next time I’m in the library, I will find out if they are still in circulation. Thanks for the tip.

    • Dale,
      Wonderful to meet you and thanks for the thought! They are still in circulation in that you can buy them on line. Google the titles and you’ll see that you can buy paperbacks, and sometimes old hard back copies, at various places; Walmart, Amazon, Thriftbooks, Abe books- possibly more. I just bought copies for my grandsons. I was happy to see that there were new editions with new covers. I also discovered that there is a sizeable series, including many I never about because they didn’t appear on that scholastic book list. Sounds like you had a wonderful career. I wish I had taken your class, particularly as I’ve always loved to write. Now that I’m retired, I’m working on several projects. I loved introducing my kids to books and now my grandsons to books that were popular when my kids grew up, as well as some classics. Happy reading!

  7. John Zussman says:

    Carol, what a wonderful memory! I’m impressed with how these two children’s books became signposts for your life’s course.

    I remember Scholastic Books well, and one in particular I ordered from there about Van Cliburn, who had just won the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow. I was already taking piano lessons, but the book cemented my conviction that passion and approval could be found in music. Not sure I remember Danny Dunn, but I was similarly addicted to the Hardy Boys, the Chip Hilton sports stories, and the Tom Corbett, Space Cadet series. You can see where the latter got me by searching for a Retrospect story called “Art Lessons.”

    Our histories have so much overlap! I’m so glad you found a literary home at Retrospect and look forward to reading more of your stories.

    • John,
      Thanks so much! I remember always being excited to be able to buy lots of books! Of course I remember the Hardy Boys, but being a girl I didn’t read them. I read the entire Nancy Drew series and then started writing my own mystery. I also loved All of a Kind Family, which I learned about from Temple.Now I’ll have to look for the Space Cadet series- sounds interesting! Thanks for directing me to your essay!! I look forward to reading it. You’re a great writer. I love your gentle modest approach.

      Our histories do overlap. I You know I adore classical music, have a piano and an amazing vinyl collection- I was listening to Rachmaninoff play Rachmaninoff the other day, a mono recording- over 100 years old! I hope we meet sometime if/when you’re in Boston. I may send you some of the other essays for my book. I look forward to reading more of your stories as well. happy summer solstice!- my favorite holiday!

  8. Being on the distaff side of course I worshipped Nancy Drew, but my husband not only read the Hardy Boys series but his mother saved them all, he read them to our son, and we still have them!

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