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The Big Chunk of Ice: The Last Known Adventure of the Mad Scientists' Club (Mad Scientist Club) [Hardcover]

By Bertrand R. Brinley & Charles Geer (Illustrator)
Our Price $ 16.11  
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Item Number 262422  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   275
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.56" Width: 6.4" Height: 1.09"
Weight:   1.05 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2005
Publisher   Purple House Press
Age  8-12
ISBN  1930900295  
EAN  9781930900295  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
It wasn't the diamond as big as the Ritz but it was a pretty big chunk of ice and it got the precocious pranksters of The Mad Scientists Club entwined in an international intrigue that only the intrepid investigators of Interpol could unravel. Take the seven young mad scientists of Mammoth Falls, stick them in an antiquated blimp bound for the Austrian Alps, along with two "hep" young college girls and a zany professor of mysterious Rumanian origins, and you have the makings of a high-flying fun fest that could only come from the author of The Mad Scientists Club and The Big Kerplop If you're not already a fan of superbrain Henry Mulligan, dinky Dinky Poore, fat Freddy Muldoon, and the other unpredictable troublemakers that populate this series of mad, mad adventure stories, you will be, once you read the Big Chunk of Ice.

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2Books > Subjects > Children's Books > Literature > Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery & Horror > Mysteries, Espion   [1858  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Fun action and plausible geological science, but some cartoonish characters  Dec 11, 2007
I loved the first two MSC books-- collections of short stories, which are really classics-- but I didn't like "The Big Ker-plop!" because the boys in that story were too passive, and there wasn't enough action.

Now comes "The Big Chunk of Ice", which I do like much better than "The Big Ker-Plop!", though not as much as the short story collections. The good news is that it's fun and it's packed with action. Some reviewers on this site have complained that the boys don't do enough-- really? Relatively early in the book a couple of the boys are rappelling into a crevasse in the glacier, when an avalanche happens (caused by their enemies?), a teenage girl falls into their laps, and they're buried under the snow. That's not enough action for you? We also have a trip across the Atlantic in a blimp, a mysterious castle in the Alps, secret passages, suspicious characters, and possible ghosts. So, lots of action.

Also, the scientific techniques and equipment in the story are remarkably accurate and plausible-- in this case, mostly realistic descriptions of how to measure the dynamics of glacial flow.

But the bad news is that some characters are completely implausible-- fun maybe, but totally unrealistic as people. The biggest example is of course the cartoonish Prof. Stratavarious, who organizes the expedition to the glacier, and (as other reviewers have pointed out) who talks like a Sid Caesar character (fake accent from the imaginary country "Rumania"). In fact he IS a fun character, but totally unbelievable as a real scientist, or real person. He gives a speech about his version of the "scientific method", in which the main principle is: throw out the data points that don't fit your hypothesis! It's actually funny as hell-- I am a real scientist (due to the influence of the Mad Scientist's Club books) and one day I'll use that quote in one of my presentations!-- but even a very bad scientist would not actually talk like he does.

The problem is that he and a couple other joke characters in "Big Chunk" partially spoil the realistic style we're used to from the MSC books. So on the one hand, the reader gets the very plausible, scientifically accurate descriptions of scientific methods, while on the other hand the reader gets a few cartoonish joke characters who seem to have been beamed in from another book altogether.

Besides Prof. Statavarious, another completely implausible character is Axel, an ugly, strange dwarf who is the caretaker of a medieval castle-- he also doesn't fit the "realistic" MSC style; I didn't believe him for a minute.

The boys also meet a couple of teenage girl students of the Professor, who are a given the ridiculous names of Angela Angelino and Angelina Angelo-- which only underscores the author's problems with making them individuals. In fact, the two girls are not exactly identical. Despite what some reviewers have written, only Angelina (I think), not both of them, speaks in Beatnik slang. I don't find the Beatnik hep-cat slang to be "dated" as some reviewers say-- I found it kind of quaint, in a Dobie Gillis/Maynard G. Krebs kind of way. It also appears Angelina likes Charlie more.

Consider that Prof. Stratavarious takes the boys across the Atlantic ocean in a blimp. I have mixed feelings about that: the blimp ride is fun, but is it really believable? The author describes the blimp in detail to make it physically plausible-- but would a sane adult really take a bunch of children on a 3-day trip in such a dangerous vehicle?

The resolution of the final mystery is also a little bit of a let-down. Despite the flaws, I still give this book four stars because the parts that weren't plausible were fun anyway, the science was accurate enough, and it did make me laugh several times. If you are choosing between this and "The Big Ker-plop!", get this.
Not up to par  Nov 10, 2007
This last adventure of the Mad Scientist Club is not up to par with the previous books. I found it somewhat tedious and uneventful. I bought it with much anticipation, but I was disappointed by the book.
The Mad Scientists Retire  Aug 9, 2006
If you enjoyed Bertrand R. Brinley's three previous books in this series: The Mad Scientists' Club, The New Adventures of the Mad Scientists' Club, and The Big Kerplop!: The Original Adventure of the Mad Scientists' Club, then you'll certainly want to read "The Big Chunk Of Ice", lost and unpublished for over 30 years. The boys return in the second novel-length adventure of the Mad Scientists of Mammoth Falls, which is also their last known adventure.

Professor Igor Stratavarious, the world-famous geologist (and borderline nutcase) first introduced in The Big Kerplop!: The Original Adventure of the Mad Scientists' Club is having trouble recruiting people beyond his entire class (of two students, Angela Angelino and Angelina Angelo) for a month-long summer expedition to study the Pasterzen Glacier in the Austrian Alps so his friend Henry Mulligan talks him into inviting the entire Mad Scientists' Club. Mayor Scragg and the Mammoth Falls Town Council are so enthusiastic about getting our heroes out of town that they pass a resolution offering to pay the expenses of the expedition for an additional two weeks. After some initial difficulties in communicating with the two college girls, who speak "hep" rather than English, they find common ground while playing the game of Geography, a truly pun-ishing contest involving replacing English phrases with sound-alike geographic place names in a sentence: "Hawaii?" instead of "How are you?", etc. (Don't worry; they get MUCH worse!) However, upon arrival in the nearby village of Heiligenblut, the group hear's a legend about a diamond the size of an apple supposedly lost out on the glacier a century before and during their following weeks of research out on the glacier begin to suspect that somebody wants them to leave, dead or alive!

I almost knocked a star off my review of this, my least favorite in the series, but decided to keep it at 5 stars after the clever finish. The problem is certainly not the writing. Mr. Brinley shows improvement with every book, and TBCoI is no exception. His vividly sketched characters and detailed descriptions of places make this tiny spot in the Austrian Alps and its peculiar inhabitants come alive before our eyes. The problem is rather that by this point IMHO Mr. Brinley was starting to forget what made the Mad Scientists stand out in the first place.

First of all, Professor Stratavarious, a minor though important character at the end of The Big Kerplop!: The Original Adventure of the Mad Scientists' Club, utterly destroys the atmosphere of scientific realism that has always been a key part of the appeal of these books. Based on a broad Sid Caesar parody of a paranoid smart-aleck of a scientist, Professor Stratavarious continuously spouts such utter if hilarious nonsense that having the boys play his straight men makes them look like fools, particularly when they accept without objection his repeated inversions of the scientific method involving discarding any evidence that doesn't fit your hypothesis!

Second and far worse IMHO, for most of the book the boys are little more than guest stars in their own story. The prime movers of the first three books are reduced to passive passengers for most of this ride, the people things keep happening to rather than the people who make things happen. Even their contribution to solving the central mystery is primarily a matter of dumb luck by their dumbest member; only at the very end do the Mad Scientists of Old swing back into action. Nevertheless, this final book is a must-read if not necessarily a must-have for fans of this series. It's a lot of fun watching our old friends develop a little more (and discover girls!) even if we wish they had more to do and a less obviously unscientific scientist for a tutor.
Stay away  Jun 27, 2006
As a child, I loved the first book of short stories. When, in my post college years, I found The New Adventures, I loved those too. The Big Kerplop was pretty good. This one, however, should have stayed unpublished. The Professor is irritating, and gives a horrible view of science. The girls are ok, if dated. The boys in the club really don't do much of anything. Where's the cool techie toys (ham radio and so on) that were in the short stories? Where's the adventure? The only sense of wonder in the entire thing is when the boys are finding the passageways in the castle.

So again, give this one a pass. There are reasons it wasn't published 30 years ago. It is the Mad Scientist's Club, so I won't give it only one star, but ...
The Big Chunk of Ice: The Last Known Adventure of the Mad Scientists' Club  Mar 22, 2006
For anyone with young boys this is a must read.Adults will enjoy this book too! Great for all ages!

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