Marty Frye, Private Eye: The Case of the Busted Video Games & Other Mysteries is the third in the young chapter book mystery series by bestselling author-illustrator team Janet Tashjian and Laurie Keller!
In this new collection of mysteries, everyone’s favorite poet detective is back in action. When a prankster tangles all the school jump ropes into knots and gym is canceled, Marty pins down the culprit. When five machines are mysteriously found broken at the arcade, Marty jumps on the case. And when Mom’s phone goes missing after a trip to the mall, Marty races against the clock to track it down before dinner. But can he still manage to make up rhymes while he solves new crimes?
Broken into three short stories, this is an ideal stepping stone to longer chapter books. Young readers will be off in search of a rhyme in no time.
Christy Ottaviano Books
About the Author
Janet Tashjian is a middle-grade and young adult novelist who’s been writing books for children for over two decades. Her first novel Tru Confessions was made into a critically acclaimed Disney TV movie starring Clara Bryant and Shia LaBeouf. The Gospel According to Larry series is a cult favorite and Fault Line is taught in many middle and high schools. Her bestselling My Life As a Book series is illustrated by her son, Jake. They also collaborated on the Einstein the Class Hamster series.
Janet collaborated with fellow Macmillan author Laurie Keller on the chapter book series Marty Frye, Private Eye. Janet currently lives in Los Angeles and made her new home city the setting of the Sticker Girl series, which details the adventures Martina who overcomes being shy with the help of her magical stickers that come to life.
Janet has been doing school visits for twenty years; you can email her for details at her website www.janettashjian.com. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram, like her books on Facebook, and check out her YouTube Channel for more information.
Laurie Keller is the acclaimed author-illustrator of Do Unto Otters, Arnie, the Doughnut, The Scrambled States of America, and Open Wide: Tooth School Inside, among numerous others. She grew up in Muskegon, Michigan, and always loved to draw, paint and write stories. She earned a B.F.A. at Kendall College of Art and Design, then worked at Hallmark as a greeting card illustrator for seven-and-a-half years, until one night she got an idea for a children’s book. She quit her job, moved to New York City, and soon had published her first book. She loved living in New York, but she has now returned to her home state, where she lives in a little cottage in the woods on the shore of Lake Michigan.
Read an Excerpt
THE CASE OF THE P.E. VANDAL
Marty Frye had been looking forward to gym class since he got to school. He liked Mr. Lynch, the P.E. teacher. Not just because Mr. Lynch had two pugs named Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, but because Mr. Lynch knew Marty loved to climb. He let Marty scale the ropes and bleachers in the gym, and also let Marty climb the elm in the schoolyard when P.E. class was held outside. The tree wasn't as challenging as the giant maple on Marty's front lawn but it certainly was a treat to be able to scramble up the branches during school hours.
Marty just hoped there was enough time after today's jump-rope challenge to climb his beloved tree.
When Marty got to the gym after lunch, he and his classmates were in for a surprise.
Several students groaned, especially Marty's friend Emma. She loved jumping rope as much as Marty loved climbing trees.
"Why not?" Emma asked their teacher.
Mr. Lynch dragged over a large plastic tub full of jump ropes. Each one was tied up in knots.
"We have a slight equipment problem," Mr. Lynch said. "It looks like there's a prankster in our midst."
Marty's ears perked up. He didn't care about missing the jump-rope challenge. But he DID care that Mr. Lynch was in need of a detective.
Marty waited until the rest of the class was outside before approaching Mr. Lynch.
Mr. Lynch stared at the jumble of jump ropes in the bin. "I would like to know who's behind this. So many kids were looking forward to this week's challenge."
It was Mr. Lynch's lucky day — it's not often that a teacher is fortunate enough to have a poet detective in class.
SEARCHING FOR CLUES
While his classmates ran relay races, Marty went back to his locker to get his backpack. He took out his magnifying glass and detective notebook. Whoever tampered with Mr. Lynch's gym equipment had hopefully left behind some clues.
Marty examined the two dozen jump ropes in the bin. Some were tied with one knot; others had two or three. Some of the knots were messy and some were tight and complex. Could more than one person be involved?
He knew a thorough detective would check out the rest of the gym, so Marty snooped around the basketball nets. (Those ropes were fine.)
He looked underneath all the orange cones. (He found some dried-up gum.)
He ran up and down the bleachers. (Not because they were suspicious but because it was fun.)
Emma headed in from the schoolyard to check on Marty's progress.
"I could have won the jump-rope challenge," she said. "Maybe whoever did this was afraid of losing."
Marty wrote down Emma's theory, along with a few of his own.
"It's terrible," Emma continued. "I've been practicing for weeks."
When Emma asked if she could tag along, Marty said yes. Solving a crime was always more fun with a friend.
Emma led Marty out to the schoolyard.
Marty ran his fingers through his hair like a comb. With Ava's long, dark braids and bright green eyes, she was the prettiest girl in school. Marty had never even talked to Ava before, and now he was supposed to question her?
He hoped his breath didn't still smell like the tuna fish sandwich he had for lunch.
The gaggle of girls around Ava laughed at her joke. Emma stood her ground.
"This is Marty — he's helping Mr. Lynch find out who sabotaged the equipment." Emma gave Marty a nudge toward Ava.
Marty cleared his throat and tried not to be mesmerized by Ava's emerald eyes. He wanted to question her but all the rhymes were caught in his throat and wouldn't come out.
"Marty!" Emma said.
All he could do was stammer. The group of girls giggled again. The pressure was on.
"She's not a witness," Emma said. "She's a suspect!" Emma looked annoyed, which made Ava and her friends laugh even more. Emma dragged Marty away from the group.
"What was that about?" Emma asked Marty.
"Her eyes were so green, I forgot my routine."
Emma shook her head. "You're on your own, Marty."
With Emma gone, Marty turned to his trusty notebook. There was someone else he wanted to question: Billy Gately. Whenever there was a school prank, Billy was never far behind. Marty also knew no one had more excuses to skip P.E. than Billy. Could he have damaged Mr. Lynch's equipment because he didn't like gym class?
Marty watched Billy against the fence with Tony. Marty and Tony had been good friends in kindergarten but hadn't done much together since Tony moved away from the neighborhood.
Marty hid behind the jungle gym to eavesdrop on their conversation. (Eavesdropping was a very important detective skill.) But all they were talking about was Tony's upcoming Cub Scout meeting.
After Tony left, Marty came out of his hiding spot to question Billy. He tried to be a little more assertive than he had been with Ava.
He told Billy about Mr. Lynch's predicament. "Does he have you to thank for that little prank?"
Billy's ears turned red. "How come as soon as something bad happens around here, I'm the first one questioned?"
Marty listed off more than a dozen pranks Billy had played in the past year.
Billy's expression went from angry to proud. "Wow! I've been busy." His smile turned to a smirk. "I bet Mr. Lynch spends the whole afternoon untying those knots. He deserves it after all those laps he made me run yesterday."
Even though Billy denied vandalizing the equipment, Marty wasn't sure he believed him.
Emma dodged the kids playing hop-scotch and approached Marty again. "I still think Ava's behind this. She bet half the class I wouldn't win the jump-rope challenge today. Turns out she was right."
Even someone who wasn't a detective could tell that Emma had a problem with Ava.
"She thinks she's so perfect all the time," Emma continued.
Marty headed back inside the gym. If he was going to question Ava again, he wanted to get his facts straight.
THE SEARCH CONTINUES
It was time to revisit the scene of the crime.
Back in his office, Mr. Lynch was sitting at his desk with the jumble of ropes at his feet.
"Go ahead and look," the gym teacher said. "I'm not sure you're going to find anything." Mr. Lynch blew his nose. "It's a good thing I found this bandana on my desk — my allergies are bad today."
The only thing that Marty was allergic to was a crime that couldn't be solved. He sat down by Mr. Lynch's desk and examined each jump rope one by one.
Some of the knots looped left to right; others crossed from top to bottom. A few of them were braided so tightly Marty couldn't undo them.
He threw up his hands in frustration.
Mr. Lynch told Marty not to worry, that he'd take the ropes home and straighten them out. When the teacher sneezed again, Marty noticed the gold- and-blue design of his handkerchief.
Mr. Lynch nodded between sneezes. "Some kid must have left it. I've never seen it before."
Marty had an idea where the fancy bandana might have come from. He also had an inkling who'd tied Mr. Lynch's ropes in knots.
Marty would have to hurry; P.E. class was almost over. He gazed at the elm with its branches swaying in the breeze. Would he have time to solve this case AND go for a climb?
"Hey, Marty!" Emma called from the swings. "Do you finally have some questions for Ava?"
But Marty didn't want to question Ava. Or Billy. He looked around the schoolyard until he saw Tony.
Tony stopped in his tracks. "What do you want to know?"
Marty asked Tony if he was trying to earn a new merit badge.
Tony mumbled something about his den facing a big test.
Tony looked around to make sure no one else was listening. "I'm the worst Cub Scout in the den! I'm the only reason we haven't earned our Bear badge. I've been practicing on every rope I can find." Tony pulled a loop of clothesline from his backpack. "I came in early this morning to practice on this but then I saw that huge tub of ropes in the gym and got carried away."
Marty told Tony that Mr. Lynch had to cancel the school's jump-rope challenge because the ropes couldn't be used.
"I'm sorry about the challenge," Tony said. "But the good news is all that practice paid off. I'm definitely going to pass the knot-tying test in my pack tonight."
Marty followed Tony to Mr. Lynch's office. He was glad Tony had improved his knotting skills. Marty was even glad he'd gotten out of jumping rope today. But most of all he was glad he'd solved another case.
A JOB WELL DONE
Emma kicked a clump of grass on the side of the schoolyard. "I can't believe it wasn't Ava."
They watched Tony sitting at one of the lunch tables with the giant tub of jump ropes.
"That's going to take him hours," Emma said.
A smile spread across Emma's face.
Marty smiled too. Emma's enthusiasm was always contagious.
He watched Emma approach Tony to help him prepare the ropes for tomorrow. Marty was happy to help them, but there was something he needed to do first.
Marty shouted to his friends as he ran toward the tree.
There was nothing more satisfying than a well-deserved reward.CHAPTER 2
THE CASE OF THE BUSTED VIDEO GAMES
On the drive home from school, Marty told his mother how he helped Mr. Lynch solve the P.E. mystery during gym class. His mom wanted to know all the details. (If she weren't a teacher, she would have made a good detective too.)
But Marty's little sister, Katie, didn't want to hear about his case. All Katie wanted to talk about was the new bookstore opening at the mall.
No one appreciated a good bookstore like Marty, but after a long day of solving crime he couldn't wait to get home. His mom also wanted to see the new store, so Marty had no choice but to tag along.
As they walked through the large set of doors, Marty heard shouting.
Marty asked his mother if they could see what the commotion was about.
Several people were gathered outside the vintage video arcade, where Murray, the owner, was pacing back and forth, dragging his two-year-old daughter by the hand.
"Somebody's vandalizing my arcade!" the owner said. "Five of my machines are broken!"
Marty's mom and sister went ahead to the bookstore. They knew Marty would have to stay and check out the case.
SEARCHING FOR CLUES
Murray showed Marty inside. For the second time that day, Marty took out his detective notebook.
He checked out the Skee-Ball game, the karaoke machine, the race cars, and the basketball game. He looked at the snack bar with its soda, popcorn, and candy. The arcade was certainly a fun place to hang out while the rest of your family was shopping.
Marty asked the owner if he could play a few of the video games — for research.
He played Pac-Man, Frogger, and Mario before getting back to work.
Marty took out his magnifying glass and examined the five broken games. On each of them, a layer of goop covered the coin slots.
Marty took a cotton swab out of his detective kit and tried to gather evidence. But the goop was dry and wouldn't budge.
The owner hung OUT OF ORDER signs on the games. "I'm going to lose a lot of money if this keeps up. I'll take all the help I can get — even if it's from a second grader."
Marty tried not to be insulted. What did his age have to do with anything? He'd already solved one crime today — surely he could solve another before it was time for his afternoon snack.
He took a look around the arcade. He recognized several kids from school and a few others from the neighborhood.
Underneath the OUT OF ORDER sign, the name of the highest scorer was frozen on the screen.
He spotted Chanda at another machine. Could she have broken these machines to retain her high score?
If anyone could figure it out, it was Marty Frye, Private Eye.
From the looks of the crowd around Chanda at the console, she was a top scorer on the Star Wars video game too.
Chanda grinned as the kids around her cheered her on. Marty couldn't believe how many points she was racking up.
"You're the kid who rhymes all the time, right?" Chanda asked. "What do you want to know?"
When Chanda finished the game, Marty brought her over to the broken machines.
"Just because no one else can play these games now doesn't mean I'm the one who broke them," Chanda said. "I LIKE competition — it's no fun to beat everyone all the time."
Marty looked at her suspiciously.
"Okay," Chanda said. "It IS fun winning all the time. But that's not a crime, is it?"
Marty wanted to ask Chanda a few more questions, but a boy near the air hockey table caught his attention. The boy was laughing as he jammed several old prize tickets into the slots of the air hockey machine.
When Marty removed the tickets, the boy knocked them out of his hand.
Marty recognized the boy from school. His name was Wally and he was six inches taller than Marty.
Wally leaned closer to Marty as he spoke. "Why do you care? Do you work here now?"
Murray pulled Marty aside. He balanced his squirmy toddler on his hip.
"Another machine is broken! If this keeps up, I'll have to close the arcade."
Murray told Marty he had until the end of the day before he would be forced to close.
Hopefully that would be enough time for Marty to solve the case.
THE SEARCH CONTINUES
Marty hid behind the karaoke machine to watch two teenage girls singing show tunes. (They weren't suspects — he just wanted to hear them. Their voices were BAD.) From his perch, he noticed a woman in a large woolen overcoat hanging out between two of the broken machines.
He confronted the woman and pointed to her heavy coat. "It's warm outside — what are you trying to hide?"
The woman ran for the door but Marty caught her.
"What's going on here?" Murray asked.
The woman took a bag of popcorn from the inside of her coat. "I know you're not supposed to bring your own food into the arcade, but I can't afford to buy your popcorn." The woman handed the bag to the owner. "I'm sorry I brought this from home."
If THIS woman didn't sabotage the machines, Marty thought, then the vandal was still at large.
Murray gave the bag of popcorn back to the woman and offered her a seat next to the karaoke machine. He then chased after his daughter, who was stumbling through the arcade.
"I remember when my kids were that young. All they did was knock things over — the house always looked like a tornado hit it!" The woman's eyes filled with happy tears at the memory.
Marty watched the little girl careen down the aisle, spilling her juice all over the floor. He turned to the woman eating her popcorn.
He ran to tell the owner he'd just cracked the case.
Marty ran by Chanda sitting in one of the race cars.
"Hey, Mr. Detective — want to race?" Chanda asked.
He found the owner wiping a puddle of his daughter's drink from the floor.
Marty brought Murray over to the row of broken machines and pointed to the slots. "If I had to deduce, I'd say this was juice."
Murray watched his daughter bounce between the machines — at the same height as the coin slots. "I thought someone was damaging my machines on purpose," Murray said. "I can't believe the answer was under my nose the whole time. This is all my fault — I never should've mixed fruit with yogurt, chocolate milk, and ice cream!"
The woman with the popcorn reassured Murray. "How were you to know you'd need a pro?" She shot Marty a wink. "You're not the only one who can rhyme."
The woman crumpled the empty bag of popcorn into a ball, hopped on her toes, and aimed. The makeshift ball landed squarely in the wastebasket on the other side of the room.
A smile spread across Marty's face and he pulled out a quarter from his pocket.
Murray, his daughter, and the lady with the popcorn followed Marty to the karaoke machine.
A JOB WELL DONE
When Marty's mom and sister returned from the bookstore, Marty was singing the theme song from The Banana Splits show with Chanda and Wally. Murray grabbed the juice cup away from the baby just as she was about to spill it all over the karaoke machine.
"That girl is a menace!" Wally said.
Marty defended Murray's daughter.
Murray said he would make his daughter a healthier drink tomorrow.
"You ready to go?" Marty's mom asked. "I've got dinner to prepare and papers to grade."
Marty and his sister followed their mom to the parking garage.
"Wait!" Murray hurried to catch up. He handed Marty a string of prize tickets. "Next time, I promise not to make you work. Just come and play."
No one had to ask Marty twice to play video games at the arcade. He told Murray he'd see him soon.CHAPTER 3
THE CASE OF THE MISSING PHONE
Marty and Katie put the groceries away while their mom roasted a chicken for dinner. Their cat, Rip Van Winkle, rubbed against Katie's leg.
"I guess you're hungry." Katie opened a can of food and dumped it into Rip Van Winkle's bowl.
"While you're at it, can someone clean Mr. Van Winkle's litter box?" their mom asked.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Marty Frye, Private Eye"
Copyright © 2018 Janet Tashjian.
Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. The Case of the P.E. Vandal,
Searching for Clues,
The Search Continues,
A Job Well Done,
2. The Case of the Busted Video Games,
Searching for Clues,
The Search Continues,
A Job Well Done,
3. The Case of the Missing Phone,
Searching for Clues,
The Search Continues,
A Job Well Done,
About the Author and Illustrator,