The Mystery of the Mad Science Teacher by Marty Chan
When Trina’s bicycle is stolen, Marty and Remi gear up to solve the case. Once they start their investigation they are both stunned that the evidence leads them to the doorstep of their new elementary school teacher. Mr E proves to be quite resourceful as an opponent, and the new girl at school, Ida, seemingly foils their attempts to catch the school thief. When Marty discovers that he and Remi share the same feelings toward Trina, things get complicated as they try to find out who she likes. For Marty, friendship, loyalty, and trust suddenly seem less straightforward when the mystery of girls is involved.
Boys especially will find Marty’s escapades exciting and funny, and readers may also appreciate the lessons in loyalty and diversity. Marty Chan, the author of the series about his eponymous hero, offers a novel with lots of action and humour that will keep readers looking forward to the next title in the series.
— Jane Bridle, librarian with Winnipeg Public Library.
Both Marty and Remi are enchanted with the new Trina! In fact, both of them “like-like her.” When her bicycle disappears, they believe someone from the “Asylum House” has stolen it — probably the strange man with the white hair.
Marty and Remi are on the case again! They use their detective skills to find out who stole Trina’s bicycle. Soon they find out that Eric’s video game has also been stolen. And then. Marty’s notebook disappears from his locker. Who is the thief?
As they arrive at school to begin grade 5, they are shocked to find out that the strange man from the “Asylum House” is now their teacher — Mr. E. “My new teacher was none other than Mr. White Hair — the maniac.” (p. 53) He seems to be giving one of the new students in their class — Ida — special treatment. What is the relationship between Mr. E and Ida? Will their detective skills help them solve the ease? Who will win Trina’s heart — Remi or Marty?
This novel once again explores Marty’s often complex relationships. His parents live above their neighbourhood grocery store. Although this seems ideal — with access to all the candy you could ever want — Marty is only allowed to eat things which don’t sell! He also has a lot of chores to do around the store! Marty’s relationship with his best friend Remi is strained by his newfound love for Trina. Remi shares his feelings for Trina with Marty — but Marty doesn’t share his own feelings about Trina with Remi! When Trina falls for Marty, Marty doesn’t want to hurt his friend by telling him about his relationship with Trina. In order to protect his friend, he shelters him from the truth. In tne end, Marty must leam a powerful lesson about honesty!
Young readers will appreciate the amusing situations experienced by the two detectives. There are some interesting scientific details about diabetes, magnets and robots. On the other hand, the solution to the mystery and the robot chase scene are both highly improbable!
— Myra Junyk
At first, the fact that the main character has the same name as the author threw me, but after a while I got used to it. Or more likely, I lost myself in the story and found myself chuckling at a child’s application of adult terms to his non-adult world. For example, Marty loves to watch detective shows and so he attempts to conduct his investigation into Trina’s bicycle theft the way it’s done on tv: Stake outs, reports, interrogations, and even an attempt at gathering fingerprints. On one stake out, Marty even thinks like one of those old-time detectives: “As I waited, time became a caterpillar inching along a highway to a rest stop called Trouble. I closed my eyes and waited for the ride to end.“ Refreshing!
Marty Chan the author even provides some “lessons learned on the playground” type scenarios which I think everyone (adults included of course) can relate to in some way or another. Ida’s situation provides an excellent example and really, kind of a semi-unusual example: Ida is a juvenile diabetic and like Marty, Trina, and Remi is in the fifth grade. Ida doesn’t want others to see her as the “sick” kid, but doesn’t want anyone to get close to her.
Ida recognizes the reality of her diabetes while her father cannot. Frustrated with her father Ida screams at him:
[. . .] The only time you ever spend with me is when it’s time for my tests and shots.
I want you to get better.
Dad, I have to take these stupid insulin shots for the rest of my life. That’s not getting better. That’s a prison sentence [. . .] Read in context, I found Ida’s venting powerful and heartbreaking. But the book does end on a happy note and the overall tone of the book is light and funny. And if you’re into hockey, you will love all the street hockey scenes and references to Canadian hockey teams (cool.)
I enjoyed reading The Mystery Of The Mad Science Teacher. Chan has a gift for writing how children think and express themselves. It’s also a gift that draws the reader into the story and into Marty, Trina, Ida, and Remi’s world. — Jennifer Dublin