Marshmallow loves to read detective stories with young protagonists. Below she shares some of her thoughts on the first four books of a classic series, Encyclopedia Brown, by Donald J. Sobol.
Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like books that have very smart people in them, or if you simply like detective stories where the main character is a kid who solves crime mysteries, then this might be the book series for you.
Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): The name Encyclopedia Brown gives you the hint that he or she is very smart since an encyclopedia is a book that contains facts, A to Z. (Encyclopedia Brown’s real name is Leroy Brown. Encyclopedia is his nickname.) The truth is, yes, Encyclopedia Brown is VERY smart and has a vast amount of knowledge. Encyclopedia is also a great detective. He can solve any mystery, even if it is an eighty-five-year-old case that has been a story for a long time.
According to Wikipedia, there are at least twenty-nine Encyclopedia Brown books, but I have read only four of them so far. Each book is less than a hundred pages and is easy to read in one day or less. In each book there are about ten stories. Sometimes the stories in one book are related to one another and have common characters. For example Sally Kimball is one of Encyclopedia Brown’s best friends and serves as his body guard. Another character who appears several times is Bugs Meany, often the criminal in the cases brought to Encyclopedia by other kids.
The book I like the most is book number two, Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret Pitch. In that book, one of my favorite stories is The Case of the Glass of Ginger Ale. This story is about a famous blind violinist who got tricked by Hans Braun, “concert master of the Glendon Symphony”. Encyclopedia solves this mystery quickly and gets an autograph from the violinist as well.
Another one of my favorites is The Case of the Balloon Man. In this story, a man named Izzy is suspected of kidnapping a little child named Bobby Tyler. Encyclopedia solves this mystery quickly while eating dinner.
The Case of the Hungry Hitchhiker is a great example of how good Encyclopedia’s mystery solving skills are. In this story, a “hitchhiker” turns out to be a part of a holdup gang. Encyclopedia figures this out by a not-melted chocolate bar that should have been melted. (Especially if you have been standing outside on a ninety-three-degree day for an hour as the hitchhiker claimed.)
Marshmallow’s Review: This is a book series that everyone will enjoy. The author puts the clues in plain sight, but it is very easy to not notice them because they are not things that will attract a lot of attention. Encyclopedia Brown is clever and always has the right answers. The answers to the mysteries are in the backs of the books. The reader will probably need to go to the end often to find out the answers to the cases that Encyclopedia Brown easily solves.
Marshmallow’s rating: 95%