Although I’d read Donald J. Sobol’s Two Minute Mysteries and Still More Two Minute Mysteries, I’d never read or even heard about his Encyclopedia Brown Series. Then a friend told me that I would really enjoy Encyclopedia’s escapades. I promptly followed her advice and found an Encyclopedia Brown book at the next library sale.
As soon as summer comes around, Encyclopedia Brown hangs out the sign he made to advertise his detective agency. Not only does it provide his name and address, but it also enumerates his practicing fee – $ .25 per day plus expenses. Over the course of the summer, he and his sidekicks, Danny and Sally, solve ten mysteries.
1) The Case of the Mysterious Tramp in which Encyclopedia discovers who robbed Mr. Clancy.
2) The Case of the Rubber Pillow in which Danny Landis is sure that Bugs Meany stole his rubber pillow case, but can’t prove how.
3) The Case of Bug’s Kidnapping in which Bugs Meany tries to frame Encyclopedia for trying to kidnap him.
4) The Case of the Boy Bullfighter in which Encyclopedia must prove that Miguel Sebastian sicced his dog on Charlie Stewart.
5) The Case of the Divining Rod in which Encyclopedia must prove that Ace Kurash’s divining rods are frauds.
6) The Case of the Bitter Drink in which Encyclopedia must determine how Melvin Hoffemberger is cheating in the Daughters of the Pioneers’ Indian trial.
7) The Case of the Telltale Paint in which Mrs. Carleton accuses Encyclopedia of stealing her purse.
8) The Case of the Stolen Diamonds in which Encyclopedia and his father, Inspector Brown devise a scenario to test police chiefs from across the state.
9) The Case of the Missing Statue in which Encyclopedia must determine whether Miss Wentworth’s statue was really stolen.
10) The Case of the House of Cards in which Benny Breslin’s new toolbox is stolen and Encyclopedia must catch the thief.
I just had to include this quote from The Case of the Rubber Pillow somewhere…
“I want you to find my pillow,” said Danny. “It’s missing.”
“I’ve seen a match box and a boardwalk, but I’ve never had to solve a pillowcase,” said Encyclopedia thoughtfully.” [pg. 16]
*gags over cheesy pun* I suppose it’s not that bad….
There are three recurring themes in the Encyclopedia Brown series. True to form, they made their appearance here in The Case of the Two Spies.
1) Encyclopedia’s father, Chief Brown brings home all of his most difficult cases home for Encyclopedia to solve because he’s so much smarter than all adults.
2) Sally Kimball is described not only as the prettiest girl in fifth grade, but also as the best fighter. She punches out boys whenever she feels they deserve it.
3) Children call each other names.
On one page, Encyclopedia’s father makes the comment that,
“Actors aren’t like other people,” said Chief Brown. “They don’t care about what is right or wrong as long as they get attention.” [pg. 88]
I must admit that I had the same reaction as Encyclopedia to that comment. I was “angry at his father for talking like that.” Many actors (perhaps most) are flashy and immoral, but actors are not categorically so.
‘Golly’, and ‘gosh’, were used twice, ‘gee whiz’ once.
Conclusion. Encyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues is what I would call ‘filler fiction’ – not especially wonderful, but not especially damaging. It will not promote serious thinking, but will provide safe enough literature for voracious readers. Not the best, but not noxious.
Note: This is a review of Encyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues, not the entire Encyclopedia Brown Series.
Review © 2012 Laura Verret