Friday, January 15, 2016

The Mad Scientists’ Club by Bertrand R. Brinley


Sitting down and thumbing through this December 1965 first paperback printing of The Mad Scientists’ Club by Bertrand R. Brinley brought back a lot of fond memories. I had printed my name across the title page and the word “4th” which was the grade I was in. I don’t know why I was documenting my school progress, but I noted my elementary school grade in all of the Scholastic Books I purchased through the 5th grade. Of all of those books this is the one people recall frequently. Today, there are some Internet sites devoted to this book and its author. I’m not surprised. The Mad Scientists’ Club was special. A collection of seven stories, several of which originally appeared in Boys’ Life magazine (yet another relic from my boyhood), Brinley had created a world that was immediately a point of nostalgia, and not unlike the town and inhabitants of Mayberry from television’s The Andy Griffith Show. With illustrations by Charles Geer, The Mad Scientists’ Club inspired a generation of junior geniuses and rambunctious eggheads while encouraging the formation of similar clubs in hamlets and small towns across the country. This book’s appeal is endless. The first story, “The Strange Sea Monster of Strawberry Lake” is typical of the boyish fun. You see, Dinky Poore made up the story about the monster when he was late for supper one day, and while his parents were skeptical, his impressionable sisters spread the story around. Pretty soon the local newspaper published an “artists conception” of the creature, which got Henry Mulligan all excited. Mulligan, vice-president and chief researcher for The Mad Scientists’ Club suggested they build the creature. So Mulligan, along with Dinky, Freddy Muldoon, and Jeff Crocker (club president) make the creature with canvas wrapped over a canoe and set sail on Strawberry Lake. Assisting them are Mortimer Dalrymple (electronics wizard) and Homer Snodgrass. Hilarity ensues, and all these homespun boyhood fantasies offer a slightly madcap tone with a gosh and gee-whiz tongue-in-cheek attitude. The other stories are “The Big Egg,” “The Secret of the Old Cannon,” “The Unidentified Flying Man of Mammoth Falls,” “The Great Gas Bag Race,” “The Voice in the Chimney,” and “Night Rescue.” Scholastic published a second collection, The New Adventures of The Mad Scientists’ Club, in 1968. I believe these books are still in print.

2 comments:

  1. I just found the entire collection on Amazon. The stories are all included in one book. Thank you for bringing the stories to my attention.

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

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