Welcome to Masters of Mystery Monday, where each week we feature a fictional detective and examine his or her unique contribution to mystery fiction. This week:
Donald Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown
Some interesting facts about the Encyclopedia Brown series:
1. The Encyclopedia Brown books began in 1963, with Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective. The series has been in print continuously since then, with the most recent book (#27), Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Carnival Crime, published this year.
2. LeRoy “Encyclopedia” Brown, “the greatest super-sleuth in sneakers,” is the son of the police chief of Idaville, Florida, and operates his own detective business out of his garage. He charges “25 cents a day, plus expenses.”
3. The books are considered Middle-Grade reader, and the mysteries of each book are usually linked short stories, where each can be read in a single sitting. It is written in “puzzle challenge” style, where the reader is given all of the clues along the way, so that he or she can solve the puzzles before finding out the solutions, which are given in an “Answers” section in the back of the book.
4. The series has been translated into 12 languages, and has won numerous children’s book awards and the Edgar Award from Mystery Writers of America.
The appeal of Encyclopedia Brown and the series:
1. His sidekick is Sally Kimball; she’s smart and tough, and acts as Encyclopedia’s bodyguard, and she intimidates the bullies who would love to beat up Brown. Love it.
2. Bugs Meany (and his bully gang) is often the antagonist of the stories. When Brown gets the best of him and there’s nothing Bugs can do about it, you can imagine how satisfying that would be to young readers.
3. The puzzles themselves are interesting, and stay within the bounds of fair play for a middle-grade audience.
4. Adults rarely need to get involved in solving the problems that arise for the kids of the neighborhood (not that adults would understand, anyway, right?). In this world, Encyclopedia Brown helps the kids take care of things themselves, and dispense justice. What child wouldn’t find that appealing?
Beyond the books:
HBO aired a series of 8 Encyclopedia Brown episodes, starring Scott Bremner and Laura Bridge:
Great sites for more info:
Kiddie Pulp: Encyclopedia Brown
Do you remember Encyclopedia Brown from your childhood reading? Who was your favorite childhood book character? I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time,
14 thoughts on “Encyclopedia Brown, Master of Mystery”
Yes, I read those and my son did, too.
The one I remember best had to do with a (left-handed?) suspect not being able to reach into the pocket he would have needed to because his arm was in a cast. Are you familiar with that one?
I vaguely recall a couple of mysteries based on left-or-right handedness, although not that one in particular. I remember one where Brown figures it out because there is no June 31st. Thanks, Steph, for visiting and commenting!
I loved EB! I used to read the books and watch the show. I haven’t thought about it in so long, but I have great memories of it. Thanks for jogging my memory..lol..
It was a trip down memory lane for me, too. So glad you stopped by, Paige!
Encyclopedia Brown is up there with The Three Investigators. He’s awesome! I mostly knew him from the HBO show (seemed like so many more episodes). I’d love that on DVD.
I never knew there was a t.v. series on Encyclopedia Brown until I did this research (we didn’t get HBO), but it looks like a lot of fun! I really enjoyed the stories when I was a kid. It was nice to see a smart kid win sometimes. Thanks, Andrew – so glad you came by.
Kathy, I became a huge fan of Encyclopedia Brown when I was in grade school. He was smart without being obnoxious about it, and I loved his partner-in-crime-solving, Sally Kimball, the prettiest and toughest girl in school. The mysteries was fun and witty and played fair with us readers. What’s not to love? I also enjoy Donald J. Sobol’s YA spy spoof SECRET AGENTS FOUR. Though I loved THE HARDY BOYS and THE 3 INVESTIGATORS (back then, Nancy Drew didn’t seem to have as much fun as I would have liked :-)), somehow I found Encyclopedia more relatable. In any case, I loved this post!
Dorian, you and Andrew M. should chat sometime! I really enjoyed Encyclopedia Brown, although I never read the 3 Investigators as a kid. It sounds like a great series! Thanks so much for stopping by!
I never knew there was a TV series! I’ve got to keep that in mind some day for Baby Girl. I LOVED me some Encyclopedia Brown in my 3-4th grade years. Potentially, I think I was into him in 5th too, but the love books then were The Phantom Tollbooth and all the Roald Dahl books. 🙂
I’m a little older than you, so Roald Dahl came too late for me. Encyclopedia Brown was fun! Can you believe Sobol has been writing them since 1963? Thanks for stopping by, Jenny!
Wow! I almost forgot about Encyclopedia Brown. You make me wish I had all the time in the world to go back and re-read my childhood mysteries!
I know what you mean, Tiffany! Not enough hours in the day. *sigh* So glad you found the time to visit me, though!
Kids loved Encyclopedia Brown when I was teaching. I thought he was fun, too.
Nice blog post. I had forgotten about EB
Janice, Encyclopedia is terrific! It’s great when kids discover him.
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