Thrift store find: “The Mad Scientists’ Club”

“Dinky Poore didn’t really mean to start the story about the huge sea monster in Strawberry Lake. He was only telling a fib because he had to have an excuse for getting home late for supper. So he told his folks he’d been running around the lake trying to get a close look at a huge, snakelike thing he’d seen in the water, and the first thing he knew he was too far from home to get back in time. …”

So begins the story …

I cannot tell you how excited I was to find an old, tattered copy of The Mad Scientists’ Club while perusing this out-of-the-way treasure box, Care Center Thrift Store. It was the 95-cent, Scholastic version, just like I remembered.

I don’t know exactly when I first read “The Strange Sea Monster of Strawberry Lake.” It could’ve been fifth grade, or sixth grade … heck, it could’ve been fourth for all I know (let’s face it, it’s a fuzzy memory). But for a boy who grew up wondering about the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot, the appeal was obvious. Whatever the age, though, this story has always been buried in my brain, surfacing every now and then to drive me crazy trying to find it.

Most bookstores don’t carry it. You have to special order it or buy it online. But doing that kind of kills the thrill of actually going someplace and finding something wonderfully unexpected.

And, finally, it happened. And it only cost a quarter.

The book series, published in the mid 1960s, was written by Betrand R. Brinley. There’s now an official website, started and maintained by Brinley’s son, in order to keep the Club “alive.”

I know the youth market is big in books right now. Maybe it’s always been that way and this is why: you never forget your beloved books. And you keep returning to them like old friends.

I’m just waiting to share this with my kids. I hope the tattered pages last long enough.

(By the way, on this same trip, I found two Encyclopedia Brown books … but that’s a post for another time …)

What books did you read as a kid that you hope to pass on?


47 thoughts on “Thrift store find: “The Mad Scientists’ Club”

  1. Congrats on the book find! I’m not familiar with The Mad Scientists’ Club, but I’m there with you on Encyclopedia Brown. I remember reading those and concentrating as hard as possible to figure out the mystery. Never did, though. Thankfully, Encyclopedia pulled through!

  2. I always enjoyed ‘The Famous Five’ and ‘The Secret Seven’ books as well as ‘Enid Blyton’ but with 3 boys, none of them have shown any interest. It appears that the nievety of those good old all time favourites have moved on in these times. I have a couple of first edition issues of Alice in Wonderland, and Enid Blyton books that my dad picked up in car boot sales. I think they will be passed on to my two god-daughters at some point and they make good christening presents!

  3. Wonderful! I too love thrift store finds like that – it’s like finding a diamond in a truckload of pebbles. I’ve been trying for years to recall the title of one of my favorite books from childhood – I can just remember pieces of it. But someday. I wound up saving many of my favorites, and have happily passed them onto my daughter, who hopes to pass them onto her kids. And so it goes..

  4. The Mad Scientists Club was a boyhood favorite for me as well. Oh, how I daydreamed of being part of a club like that and sharing in all of those adventures! I ordered the hc reprint of the original, as well as the two add’l volumes, from the website, spent a few enjoyable hours with them, eventually gave them to a friend for her kids.

  5. I have always been and will continue to be a HUGE fan of “Seven Cousins” by A.M Alcott. It is no longer in print and rarely available on line; however, I purchase several at a time and give them as gifts.
    Shadow Castle about the star crossed lovers: the fairy king and the human maiden, runs a very close second! And I’m 52 years old!
    Best wishes from Cambodia,

  6. THE GREAT BRAIN series, and Choose your Own Adventure. I still have the copy of an abridged and illustrated version of Tom Sawyer, which my mother bought in a bargain bin at KB Toys and was the first book I ever read in a single day.

  7. “Moose, Goose and Little Nobody”
    It’s a large hard cover book that a parent would read to the child. I still have mine because my dear old mother couldn’t throw anything away.

  8. Rabbit and Skunk and the Scary Rock & Rabbit and Skunk and Spooks!!

    These were 2 of my favorites! My dad brought them with him one day when he came to visit and it was so much fun looking through them again – They are old and tattered but I will definitely be passing the stories on to my kids one day 🙂

  9. I am slowly collecting all the old Nancy Drew books for my daughter. Requirements – they must have the original artwork on the cover (none of this modernized Nancy crap. Honestly.) and they must be purchased from a thrift store. Amazon and B&N just don’t have the same treasure-hunt thrill.

    She is so, so close to being ready to read them. I need to step up my game – still haven’t found #1. Doh!

    • I know they updated the cover art, did they ever publish new Nancy Drew stories too? I remember a few years ago I picked up a Hardy Boys book and they were fighting terrorists with uzis because Joe’s girlfriend had been killed in a car bomb explosion!
      I think it was called “Dead on Target.”

      • Yeah- there were newer versions after I aged out of reading them. I’m only looking for the classics here. Any day now I’ll find the Secret of the Old Clock and life will be good.

  10. Wow! Looking through the comments to this post brought back some memories. I had forgotten about the Great Brain books. I also loved Alexander LLoyd’s series (Black Cauldron etc..), Encyclopedia Brown, the Hardy Boys, and a bunch of Heinlein juveniles (i.e. Red Planet & Citizen of the Galaxy). Great memories!

    My daughters aren’t to the age for these books yet, but it will be lots of fun when they are! I’ll have to check out the Mad Scientists Club – that’s a series I never discovered as a child.

  11. Oh, man – I loved ‘The Mad Scientists Club’ and I remember the Strawberry Lake story, too… there was also a series of books I remember following the adventures of a boy named Danny Dunn… any memories there?

  12. Oh, I remember The Mad Scientists Club! I still have my copy somewhere, I think. Or maybe I passed it on to my daughter. I remember too The Ghost of Dibble Hollow, and The Forgotten Door, and lots of great reads from Scholastic.

  13. I *think* I read this. But I’m going to have to seek out a copy and re-read it to be sure. My mind is fuzzy after all these years. But, THANK YOU for the trip down memory lane. Going back to the 1st or 2nd grade, I read “The Trolley Car Family” and back even father, Curious George. We had a “bookmobile” come from the local library branch. I would always choose the titles in the Mystery section. Yes, Nancy Drew and the like. But this title, “The Mad Scientists’ Club” sounds oh so familiar to me.

  14. Another vote for The Great Brain series, and I’m so happy that others remember it too.

    One of my favourites, though, was “The Boys Who Vanished,” by John F. Carson, and “Kemlo and the Space Lanes,” by E. C. Eliott.

    That’s not to mention all the Tom Swift Jr., Hardy Boys, and yes, even Nancy Drew.

    But one that haunted me over the years was “The Land Behind the Curtain,” and through the magic of the Internet, I finally got a copy, which I gave to my mother for Christmas this year. (She had fond memories of it too, and we’d talked about it often over the years.)

    Nothing will ever replace books.

  15. I loved the “Boxcar Children” and we used to act out the stories under a neighbor’s tree. Danny Dunn seems familiar, and our 5th grade teacher read us the “Happy Hollisters” mysteries. And ALWAYS Nancy Drew.

  16. Recently came across an old copy of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Only 50 cents!!

    It looks like it had been well loved.

    My mother-in-law (MIL), my daughter and I plan to read it together this summer. My MIL has NEVER read it!

  17. It actually makes me a little sad sometimes to revisit old books from childhood like The Boxcar Children and the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy series. I did so recently, and I never realized how ridiculously repetitive they are in places, and how flat the characters are. Nancy Drew is basically Barbie, and George and Bess are like Midge and That Hawaiian Chick. And once I read a Boxcar Children where Violet (I think it’s Violet) said something about how they could live off of bread and milk for a week THREE DIFFERENT TIMES when they were excited about their grandfather letting them camp out somewhere. Seriously, I was beginning to think that they were obsessed with bread and milk.
    As for the updated Hardy Boys and Nancy Drews, I really like the Nancy Drew Case Files. Nancy branched out a lot more in her character. The Hardy Boys Case Files ticked me off when they killed off Iola.

  18. “Jenny and the Cat Club” was a huge favorite of mine and it’s recently been re-issued – hooray! I ordered it from Amazon for my oldest daughter. Also loved Nancy Drew books and “Harriet the Spy”. I’m currently reading “A Wrinkle in Time” to my girls, ages 7 and 9. It’s much more complex than I remembered!

  19. There was this kids book, that I was assigned in fifth grade, it was about turn of the last century New York, and a family of working class kids. Something about one of them lending a book that wasn’t returned, and books being price then, having to pay a hefty fine. His two sister, going to some store with a barrel of crackers, and the day old ones, the store owner gave to them. Anyways after rambling, I always wanted to find that book, but could not remember the name of it to save my life. Books take a strange hold over people.

  20. Roald Dahl’s entire collection, Enid Blyton’s boarding school novels, practically every single novel by Jane Austen, Anne of Green Gables series, Little Women, uh, The Chronicles of Narnia, Tolkien’s books, um, Dune, definitely..

  21. I love MSC! I have a tattered copy of the edition you found and have passed it on to my children. This was one of my favorite books as a kid. I don’t know if my old copy will survive this generation, but I’d rather they read it and enjoy it than keep it as a protected unused artifact.
    Good on you and thanks for the tip about the website.

  22. I must have read Charly and the Chocolate Factory a hundred times as a kid. It still drives me crazy that in two movie adaptations they have not saw fit to include my favorite part, the square candies that look round.

  23. Nice to read your blog!
    I like all the books by Enid Blython. Those are the books full or moral values described in a kid-like way supported with simple yet nice illustrations. 🙂

  24. I think as long as you enjoyed the books that you read as a child bring back fond memories – it doesn’t really matter what the book was. However, there are not many books for children over the age of 10 that do not include some form of crime, violence, guns, drugs or inappropriate language, which is a great shame, because the likes of ‘famous five’ etc were simple and nieve – they didn’t put any thoughts or ideas in your head that were not creative. But as someone said ‘JK Rowling’ is very much the ‘Enid Blyton’of today, and there are not many authors around like them with that creativity.

  25. Pingback: Thrift store find: “The Mad Scientists’ Club” « The 10-Minute Ramble « CJTs3Rs's Blog

  26. Pingback: Thrift Store Thursday: The New Adventures of the Mad Scientist Club | The 10-Minute Ramble

  27. Always a favorite! I read it when I was a kid, in the late 60’s, and found a copy at a Goodwill shop (Boise, ID), about 5 years ago, for 25 cents. I gave it to my brother’s kids, which I kinda regret….they probably never read it. If it were still in my collection, I’d read it once a year!

    • It’s funny how books stay with you, isn’t it? My son is starting to read and I hope to share the books I enjoyed as a child with him … maybe, eventually, he’ll like them!

      Thank you for reading and commenting! I hope you find another copy soon.

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