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Donald J. Sobol is an award-winning author of more than 65 children's books. His Encyclopedia Brown series was first published in 1963 (Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective) and hasn't been out of print since. In fact, it has been translated into over 12 languages around the world. Like Encyclopedia Brown, Sobol and his wife Rose (also a children's author) live in Florida
Leroy Brown, son of the Chief of Police of Idaville, Florida, was dubbed Encyclopedia by his father because of all the facts he knows. Each time the Chief was stumped by a case, Encyclopedia would solve it at the dinner table. Encouraged by his success, Encyclopedia opened his own detective agency, and ten of his cases are presented in each book (one per chapter), with clues for the reader to solve. If you`re stumped, Encyclopedia will help you out with the anwers in the back of the book! Encyclopedia is assisted in his investigations by his best friend, Sally Kimball. The villian in many of the stories is Bugs Meany.
Books featuring Brown are subdivided into a number, usually ten or more, of possibly interlinked short stories, each of which presents a mystery. The mysteries are intended to be solved by the reader, thanks to the placement of a logical or factual inconsistency somewhere within the text. This is very similar to the layout of Donald Sobol's other book series, Two-Minute Mysteries. Brown invariably solves the case by exposing this inconsistency, in the "Answers" section in the back of the book.
Often these books follow a formula where the first chapter involves Brown solving a case at the dinner table for his father, the local police chief in the fictional town of Idaville. Encyclopedia solves these cases by briefly closing his eyes while he thinks deeply, then asking a single question which directly leads to him finding the solution.
The second mystery often begins in the Brown garage on Rover Avenue, where Encyclopedia has set up his own detective agency to help neighborhood children solve cases for "25 cents per day, plus expenses - No case too small." This second case usually involves the town bully and mischief maker Bugs Meany, leader of a gang who call themselves the Tigers, who, after being foiled, will attempt revenge in the third mystery.
In the third mystery the plot involves Encyclopedia's partner, close friend, and bodyguard, Sally Kimball, the one person under 12 years of age to physically stand up to Bugs. She is the only reason neither Bugs nor any of his Tigers ever try to physically attack Encyclopedia. Encyclopedia tends to dislike anyone whom she has a crush on, possibly indicating that he has a crush on her. Also intelligent, Sally once attempted, in the first book of the series, to prove herself smarter than Encyclopedia by stumping him with a mystery of her own creation. However, she was beaten in the contest (although Encyclopedia admitted that she almost tricked him), after which she became his friend. In that story Bugs or his gang usually sets up some sort of trap to get Encyclopedia or Sally in trouble. However, as in the previous story, they make a key mistake that Encyclopedia exposes.
Later cases may find Encyclopedia assisting his father at a crime scene (rarely more serious than larceny, and Encyclopedia is always discreet when helping his father) or interacting with people around town, often exposing scams. One such example is a high school dropout and would-be con artist named Wilford Wiggins who spends time trying to dream up schemes to fleece kids out of their money. Like Bugs, his schemes have an inconsistency which Encyclopedia exposes.
In some cases it is Sally and not Encyclopedia who figures it out because in her words, "You are a boy." In other words, she notices things that only a female would find inconsistent. Sally further displays her intelligence in the various mysteries in that she often can deduce who committed the crime, or whether a certain person is lying, but she simply cannot always prove it.
1: Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective - 1963