Novel: Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective
Author: Daniel J. Sobol
Target Audience: 8 to 12 years
Publication Year: 1963
Setting: Idaville, a town in the USA; set around the time the book was written–1960s
A Favorite Quote: “An encyclopedia is a book or a set of books giving information, arranged alphabetically, on all branches of knowledge. Leroy Brown’s head was like an encyclopedia. It was filled with facts he had learned from books.”
My One Sentence Summary: Leroy (a.k.a. “Encyclopedia”) Brown uses his vast knowledge stores to solve mysteries all around Idaville, including cases that baffle the chief of police…who just so happens to be Encyclopedia’s father!
What I loved about this book: The books in this series are largely episodic and can pretty much be read in any order. Each episode generally ends with a question along the lines of “How did Encyclopedia Brown know…?” The reader then has the opportunity to come up with his/her own solution to the puzzle. I very rarely (if ever) guessed the solutions for myself, but I enjoyed being invited to participate. I also loved seeing a child outthink the adults in the story.
Major themes: The practical application of knowledge; the value of education and the usefulness of books
Who should read this book: This series is perfect for young readers who enjoy solving puzzles. Readers who like logic games and trivia will likely embrace these books. The stories are fairly short and the writing style is straightforward and easily accessible.
- Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective
- Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret Pitch
- Encyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues
- Encyclopedia Brown Gets His Man
- Encyclopedia Brown Solves Them All
And on and on… There are a total of twenty-nine books in the series. The books mostly follow the same format (short stories or loosely related episodes as Brown solves different cases). Chances are if a reader likes one in the series, they will like the other books as well. These books can be read out of order without any real confusion.