Holmes in sneakers!
1) The Case of the Growling Dog in which Chief Brown knows who stole Mr. Dale’s electric drill, but can’t find the drill or figure out how the thief made his getaway. Can Encyclopedia?
2) The Case of the Red Harmonica in which Northcliff Hicks has been cheated in a music competition, but can’t figure out how.
3) The Case of the Knockout Artist in which Encyclopedia believes that Bugs Meany is catching Sally in a trap. But can he prove this to Sally?
4) The Case of the Headless Runner in which someone has broken Mr. Taft’s front porch light, and Encyclopedia thinks the culprit is Duke Kelly.
5) The Case of the Reward Money in which Wilford Wiggins is trying to collect money for an important plane flight, and only Encyclopedia can determine whether his mission is genuine.
6) The Case of the Tooth Puller in which Phineas Cole believes that Bugs Meany will try to ruin his booth at the carnival and begs Encyclopedia to come along and keep an eye on things.
7) The Case of the Girl Shortstop in which Edwina Silverstein tries to play on the boy’s baseball team, and hires Encyclopedia to find the culprit when her identity is discovered.
8) The Case of the Rattlesnake’s Rattle in which someone has stolen the rattle off of the Museum of Science’s stuffed rattlesnake. But who could have done it with honest old Chester standing guard?
9) The Case of the World Traveler in which Justin Mudd is applying for a membership with the Idaville Junior Ecology Club, but Hector Ames, it’s president is skeptical. Is Justin such a great world traveler as he claims?
10) The Case of the Lady Ghost in which Otto Beck believes that he has seen a ghost. And there’s been a robbery at Polk’s Jewelry Shop. Can there be any connection between the two events?
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.
The solutions to one of the mysteries includes a boy stripping and crossing a yard naked. No one sees him and it is not suggestive.
A girl pretends to be a boy to get on an all-boy baseball team. When her gender is discovered, she becomes very angry and declares that “Boys are fat-rinks!” [pg. 54]
At the beginning of one of the mysteries, Encyclopedia and his friend go to see a triple-feature horror show. The features are named The Headless Vampire, The Killer Gorilla, and The Torture Chamber of Dr. LeFarge. This sets them up to believe that they have seen a headless person who, it turns out much to their relief, is another regular boy. When first startled, though, Encyclopedia’s eye’s strain, “searching the night-covered street for a pair of hands, or the ghost of the Crandon Zoo gorilla, or a headless vampire.” [pg. 33]
In another mystery, a young boy believes that he has seen a ghost, but it turns out to be a real person.
‘Golly’ and ‘gosh’ are each used once.
Conclusion. While perhaps not the most constructive way for children to be investing their time, Encyclopedia Brown Shows the Way is not evil and will sharpen younger readers’ skills of analysis and observation of details.
Note: This is a review of Encyclopedia Brown Shows the Way, not the entire Encyclopedia Brown Series.
Review © 2013 Laura Verret