Title: Solves Them AllEncyclopedia Brown # 5
Author: Donald J. Sobol
Illustrator: Leonard Shortall
Pages: 96
Reading Level: 8-12
Star Rating: ★★★

It’s been a while since I reviewed an Encyclopedia Brown book!

The Stories.

The Case of the Missing Clues. Abner Nelson has a problem for Encyclopedia to solve – a problem of protection. Bugs Meany has decided that Abner’s fruit stand needs “protection” from thieves – and that he’s the one who should protect it. The only problem is that Bugs is the biggest thief of them all. Can Encyclopedia prove that Bugs has been stealing Abner’s fruit?

The Case of the Super-Secret Hold. Ever since the day that Sally Kimball outpunched him, Bugs has longed for revenge. And now it seems he might at least humiliate her, because after demonstrating a terrible karate hold, he challenges Sally. Should Sally accept the challenge? Is the hold a fake?

The Case of the Wagon Master. Joe Cooper is rip-roaring angry. It seems that a statue of Buck Calhoun, wagoneer, has been unveiled at Fort Hope. But Joe knows that Buck was no hero – in fact, he was responsible for hundreds of pioneer deaths! Can Encyclopedia prove this fact and convince the officials to remove the statue?

The Case of Sir Biscuit-Shooter. Lionel Fisk’s Uncle Barney has sent Lionel three tickets to the circus where he is employed as a fearless English knight, Sir Godfrey Biscuit-Shooter. When “Sir Godfrey” is accused of stealing money from the lion tamer, it’s up to Encyclopedia to prove his innocence!

The Case of the Frightened Playboy. Mr. Mackey, Idaville’s millionaire, is always calling the police. Usually he reports that burglars are trying to steal all his money. But this time, he believes someone may try to kill him – or at least put him temporarily out of the way. And as he explains his reasons to Chief Brown, they actually make sense…

The Case of the Hair Driers. Mr. Jorgens, owner of Idaville’s beauty shop, has just been robbed of seven hundred and twenty dollars while trying to make a deposit in the bank! He only told one person – his wife – what he was planning to do. True, there were three other people in the room at that time, but the hair driers were running and there was no way that any of them could have heard his words. So who is guilty?

The Case of Cupid’s Arrow. Tyrone Taylor is mystified. While he was sitting under a tree thinking about the love of his life, an arrow pierced the bark just above his head! And not just any arrow – an arrow with a huge diamond tied to it! Is someone trying to murder Tyrone? Or was it a gift from Cupid?

The Case of the Wounded Dog. Mr. Harwood has had it out for Rex, the Plummer’s dog, for a long time now. And now, Rex has been found wounded with Mr. Harwood standing nearby, gun in hand! Is Mr. Harwood’s story about robbers true, or did he purposefully try to kill Rex?

The Case of the Earthenware Pig. Charlie Stewart is a tooth collector. Recently Bugs Meany has been plaguing him to exchange his amazing tooth collection for an old earthenware pig teapot of Bugs’. Charlie refuses, so Bugs decides to call in the police and accuse Charlie of stealing the teapot! Can Encyclopedia prove who’s the real crook here?

The Case of the Muscle Maker. Wilford Wiggins has concoted yet another money-making scheme! This time, he is selling a medicine he calls “Hercules’s Strength Tonic” – it’s guaranteed, if taken properly, to develop great muscular strength in whoever uses it! Encyclopedia must prove this is a fraud before half of Idaville’s school children are drinking the useless stuff!

Discussion.

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

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. Other than this, the series does not reflect a children’s-are-smarter-than-adults attitude.

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.

In addition, Mr. Mackey of “The Frightened Playboy” is referred to as, well, a playboy. However, this words seems to be intended only to convey that he is a rich young man who has no serious pursuits.

Also, Tyrone Taylor of “Cupid’s Arrow” is described as being “the youngest ladies’ man in Idaville”. His reputation as a lady killer seems to be based on the fact that he’s is “always holding some girl’s hand”. [pg. 56]

‘Gosh’ is used twice, ‘golly’ once.

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

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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