Title: Encyclopedia Brown Sets the PaceEncyclopedia Brown # 15
Author: Donald J. Sobol
Illustrator: Ib Ohlsson
Pages: 90
Reading Level: 9-12
Star Rating: ★★

Brown Detective Agency is back in trade.

The Stories.

1. The Case of the Supermarket Shopper. While Mr. Quinn was out shopping, an Ignazio Saracco painting was stolen from his home. Only a few people knew that he would be gone during that time. Which of them stole it?

2. The Case of the Dinosaur Hunter. Bugs Meany is at it again – only this time he’s sold a phony dinosaur-hunting license to Garth Pouncey. And he’s stolen one of Garth’s towels! Can Encyclopedia prove that Bugs is a thief and a conman?

3. The Case of the Used Firecrackers. Bugs is horribly jealous of Encyclopedia and wants to get him into trouble with the police. So he plants Encyclopedia in a field full of exploded firecrackers and calls the police in. Can Encyclopedia prove that Bugs story is a lie?

4. The Case of the Ugliest Dog. It appears that someone has drugged Jim Mack’s dog, Twitchy, who was the favorite to win the Ugliest Dog prize at the dog show. But who did it?

5. The Case of Hilbert’s Song. Hilbert Capps is excited – Maggie has decided to play his new record at her birthday party. But when she goes to play it, the tape is gone! Who stole it?

6. The Case of the Crowing Rooster. Wilford Wiggins is holding a meeting; says his friend, Bill Canfield has invented a remote that controls chickens. Can Encyclopedia intercede before he gyps more kids out of their money?

7. The Case of the Bubble Gum Shootout. Cephas Keefer is about to have a bubblegum-blowing competition with Malcolm Nesbit, and he wants Encyclopedia on hand to ensure fair play. And it seems that his suspicions were justified when Cephas is outblown by a whole half inch.

8. The Case of the Boy Juggler. Fangs Liverright is about to participate in a unique juggling contest when he discovers that some of his equipment has been stolen. Was it taken by one of the other competitors? Only Encyclopedia knows!

9. The Case of the Practical Jokers. Lucy Fibbs believes that someone is trying to steal her wonderful hog, Julius Caesar. So she sets a trap – a trap which springs but which fails to catch. So she calls in Encyclopedia to see if he can’t snag the thief.

10. The Case of the Marathon Runners. Cicero Sturgess is training for Idaville’s marathon. But he’s not planning to win – he wants to lose! He believes that the publicity will be great for his career on the stage. But just as he’s being interviewed for his position in last place, another runner comes across the line. Can Encyclopedia prove that she faked losing and that Cicero is the real loser?

Discussion.

I’ve said before that there are three recurring themes in the Encyclopedia Brown series. True to form, they made their appearance here in Sets the Pace.

1)      Encyclopedia’s father, Chief Brown brings 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 and get into shouting matches. Here’s an example.

“That’s a lie, you teenage junk heap!” snapped Sally.

“I’ve got news for you,” snarled Bugs. “If looks were a crime, you’d have been born in prison.”

“Don’t get smart,” Sally retorted. “It will clash with your brains.” [pg. 23]

Now, this dialogue is intended to be overdrawn, but it’s still how the kids speak to one another.

In The Dinosaur Hunter, a boy asks Encyclopedia if he’s seen any dinosaurs around. Encyclopedia responds “not for sixty-five million years.”

Encyclopedia and Sally work on Sunday.

‘Gosh’ and ‘gee’ are each used once.

Conclusion. While perhaps not the most constructive way for children to be investing their time, Encyclopedia Brown: Sets the Pace will sharpen younger readers’ skills of analysis and observation of details.

Note: This is a review of Encyclopedia Brown: Sets the Pace, not the entire Encyclopedia Brown Series.

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