Here comes Encyclopedia…
1) The Case of the Kidnapped Dog in which Encyclopedia must discover who stole Mrs. Joan Todd’s prize winning Great Dane and his only clue is the ransom note.
2) The Case of the Fireflies in which Fanchon DuBois accuses Bugs Meany of stealing his can of fireflies.
3) The Case of the Duck Derby in which Bugs tries to revenge himself upon Encyclopedia by accusing him of theft.
4) The Case of the Sand Castle in which Pablo Pizzaro’s entry in the sand castle competition is destroyed and Encyclopedia must figure out by whom.
5) The Case of the Telephone Call in which Encyclopedia’s cousin, Derek is fired from his job. Can Encyclopedia prove that this was done on unjust grounds?
6) The Case of the Stolen Wallet in which Todd accuses Charlie Stewart of stealing Benny Breslin’s wallet.
7) The Case of the Manhole Cover in which Wilford Wiggins is scheming up another way to scam the children of Idaville.
8) The Case of the Two Spies in which the Idaville police know that John Hudson is communicating secret information to Otto Severin but can’t figure out how. Can Encyclopedia?
9) The Case of the Violinist’s Chair in which Fay Xanikis claims that her chair has been stolen by Taggart Smith but it’s up to Encyclopedia to prove.
10) The Case of the Stolen Coin in which Chief Brown and Encyclopedia are sent to investigate the dinner-time theft of a rare coin.
What’s next? Ah yes, the inimitable style of Donald J. Sobol.
“It’d be easier to make an elephant tiptoe through wet cement,” said Encyclopedia. [pg. 34]
“Wilford Wiggins was a high school dropout and too lazy to yawn. He lay in bed all morning thinking up ways to cheat little kids out of their savings.” [pg. 39]
“Even the wool Wilford pulls over your eyes is half nylon,” Sally said. [pg. 40]
I’ve said before that 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 and engage in shouting matches.
A non-reoccurring problem popped up The Case of the Two Spies. That would be this scene which takes place at a beach.
Encyclopedia turned. He saw Tessie Bottoms, looking a little like a walrus in a pink bathing suit, and her poodle, Cuddles.
“Cuddles should be on a leash,” Encyclopedia said.
“So should Tessie,” declared Sally.
Sally didn’t like Tessie, a big, pushy eighth-grader who tried to boss around little kids.
“Look at her pose for Kevin, will you!” Sally said disgustedly. “She thinks she has an hourglass figure, and she’s right. It takes an hour to figure it out.”
Cuddles bounded playfully among the boys before sniffing at Kevin’s sandals.
“That pooch must be trained to pay attention to Kevin,” Pablo observed. “Tessie’s been chasing him since seventh grade.”
“Cuddles can’t help her get a date,” Sally said. “Even the tide wouldn’t take her out.” [pg. 24]
So, I would describe that scene as gossipy, unkind, and exploitative. Anything I forgot to mention?
‘Golly’ and ‘gosh’ are each used once.
Conclusion. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Two Spies 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 and the Case of the Two Spies, not the entire Encyclopedia Brown Series.
Review © 2013 Laura Verret