I decided to stretch my book review wings a little and try my hand at reviewing a childrens’ book. I received The Mystery Of The Mad Science Teacher by Marty Chan from Mini Book Expo and I’m glad I received the opportunity to review the book. So, here goes:
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