Sunday, March 16, 2014


Encyclopedia Brown Boy Detective, Donald J Sobol, Dutton Children's Books, 1964, 88 pp


This is the first book in the Encyclopedia Brown 28 book series. I read it as research for my novel. I've seen these books for years at the bookstore where I used to work and at libraries. They are all short chapter books recommended for reader aged 7 and up.

Pretty good. Each chapter concerns a mystery case solved by the well-read and logical thinker Encyclopedia Brown, who is 10. His real name is Leroy but everyone except his parents and teachers call him by his nickname because his "head was like an encyclopedia. It was filled with facts he had learned from books. He was like a complete library walking around in sneakers."

Mr Brown, his father, is the chief of police for their small town. Idaville, in this first book, is typical for the mid 60s. Kids ride all around on their bikes and are allowed to roam about after dark. After Encyclopedia helps his father solve a puzzling case, using observation and logic in the style of Sherlock Holmes, he decides to go into the detective business himself.

He makes up handbills (now there is an old term) and a sign, charges 25¢ per day (plus expenses) and eventually takes on a bodyguard and junior partner named Sally Kimbal.

At the end of each chapter, after the mystery has been solved, are the words HOW DID ENCYCLOPEDIA KNOW THIS? or some variation of that question. The reader is directed to a page in the back of the book for the solution. Of course, I tried to figure out each one on my own first and I imagine a young reader would do the same.

I wonder if Donald Sobol updates the environment as the series progresses. The 28th book was published in 2012. I hope my library has it. Does anyone know?

(Encyclopedia Brown Boy Detective is available in various formats by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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