Thursday, January 6, 2011

Worth Reading: Encyclopedia Brown

My son was given a gift card to Barnes and Noble for Christmas. Without delay we went online and began the search. Like many other websites, Barnes and Noble has a multitude of search options. Of course there are the obvious title, author, keyword, ISBN searches, but then there is a nifty selection by age, reading level, area of interest, and price.

But after trying all of the above, we found nothing appropriate for a voracious ten-year old reader.

We tried again a couple of days later. This time, I noticed a title that I recognized, but had never read: Encyclopedia Brown. My husband had read the books as a child and remembered them as some of his favorites. We ordered two: Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective and Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret Pitch.

The evening they arrived, we (husband, boy and I) read both books!

A few things to note about Encyclopedia Brown. The story is not a straight-forward beginning, middle and end fictional tale. Each book is divided into a series of short stories, always with a continuing thread, but not always directly connected to the story before. At the end of each story is a question basically asking: How did Encyclopedia know? You check your answer at the back of the book.

A few things remain the same in each story: Encyclopedia Brown is the ten-year old son of Chief Brown, Idaville's local police detective. One of his best friend's is Sally, a tough young lady with an eye for clues. Bugs Meany, as his name suggests, is not the nicest of boys.

Best of all, the stories contain a mystery. A mystery in which you the reader have been provided with all the clues to solve. The key is learning to read closely, use deductive reasoning and apply prior knowledge to situations to solve the crime. Most of the stories may be read in two to five minutes.

Donald J. Sobol is the author of more than twenty-five Encyclopedia Brown books. His concise, witty, writing style captivates the reader from the first page. Variety in the stories and solutions keep you reading.

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