A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Donald J. Sobol's Encyclopedia Brown series is just as fun to read in its reprinted editions as it was in 1963. Each book is a collection of brief mysteries (8-10 pages long) in which 10-year-old Encyclopedia Brown takes a case, listens, watches, and solves it by being more observant than anyone else. While the town of Idaville lacks racial diversity and gender roles are fairly traditional, the series promotes so many positive ideas: Do the right thing, work hard, be kind. Older nemesis Bugs Meany never wins, and it's fun to see Encyclopedia take him down with brains, wit, and confidence. Readers have the chance to solve the case along with Encyclopedia; each chapters ends with the mystery solved, but readers turn to the end of the book to read how he did it. Great for early or reluctant readers of chapter books.
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What's the story?
In the ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN series, 10-year-old Leroy Brown is nicknamed "Encyclopedia" because his memory and observation skills have made him the most sought-after detective in Idaville. This small-town boy takes cases for 25 cents, finding anything from a lost earring to an escaped bank robber, figuring out who the town litterbug is, or determining if a kid really drank the bitter water and won the contest against nemesis Bugs Meany's gang.
Is it any good?
The writing in these mysteries is fast-paced, fun, and full of sly jokes. Each self-contained chapter in the Encyclopedia Brown books is only 8-10 pages long, so early or reluctant readers of chapter books will have an easy time focusing, and more advanced readers can whiz through case after case. The characters aren't at all complex and the names in the series are clues themselves (any kid named "Bugs Meany" or "Lefty Dobbs" is bound to be trouble), and there's humor in that simplicity. There isn't a lot of diversity in Idaville, but the series does try to expand gender roles a bit -- a girl playing football or having a better left hook than any boy. These are fun mysteries set in relatable situations, and the solutions will even keep adults guessing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Encyclopedia Brown keeps an open mind when he takes a case. How can you keep from jumping to conclusions about a person or incident?
Encyclopedia's key to solving cases is listening and observing carefully. How would this be helpful to you, even if you don't have a case to solve?
What other books have mysteries set in everyday situations? What are some of your favorite mystery books?
- Author: Donald J. Sobol
- Illustrator: Leonard Shortall
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Puffin Books
- Publication date: September 6, 2007
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 96
- Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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