Jeff Pearlman

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Gertrude the Great

Life is funny in 8,000 different ways.

It’s funny because people slip on banana peels.

It’s funny because we all fart.

It’s funny because there are highs and lows and twists and turns, and we almost never see them coming.

It’s funny because you never know who’s gonna pop up, randomly …

For example, a couple of months ago, when my kids started the new year of elementary school, I was standing in the courtyard, waiting for pickup, when someone say, “Hey, do you know who that guy is?” He pointed to a big dude with a dark beard.

“No,” I said. “Who?”

“It’s Tommy Dreamer.”

“Uh, Tommy who?”

“Tommy Dreamer. The wrestler.”

Now I’ve written some about wrestling, and I certainly watched Hulk battle the  Iron Sheik as a kid (Camel Clutch, baby!). But my knowledge, while OK, is nothing dazzling. Hence, that afternoon I took a minute and Googled Tommy Dreamer. Here’s what popped up.

Wacky, right? Even more interesting, Tommy’s wife, Trisa, was his “manager” throughout much of his wrestling career (I put “manager” in quotes because, traditionally, “manager” means pretty woman escorting wrestler into ring. For all I know, she actually handled his day-to-day everything). She apparently went by “Beulah McGillicutty,” had/had her own fan following, etc … etc.

I digress.

Although Tommy still travels a lot for wrestling, I see Trisa three or four times per week, bringing her kids to school then, hours later, picking them up. She’s warm and friendly and lovely and—it turns out—author of one of the best children’s books the wife and I have read for quite some time. I’m not exaggerating. At a book fair last week, I plunked down $10 for “Gertrude the Great,” Trisa’s debut effort. To be honest, my expectations were low; not because Trisa worked in wrestling but because, well, so many kids books disappoint. They’re overly simplistic, sloppily illustrated, etc.

Not this one. Without giving much away, “Gertrude the Great” is the story of girl empowerment, of a youngster who develops self confidence and comes to understand what makes her special. The writing is crisp; Jill Thompson’s illustrations are wonderful.

Trisa self-published, which makes her efforts all the more noble and worthy. So, if you’re looking for a gift for a young female reader (I’d say ages 5-9), you won’t do better than this one.

  • Stephen in Ohio

    Thanks for posting about this book, Jeff. I was looking for something for my sister this Christmas and this sounds like something she would enjoy reading to her child.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life