Monday, January 3, 2011

Retro Book of the Week

Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective
by Donald J. Sobol

Leroy Brown, nicknamed "Encyclopedia" by his friends and teachers, is just your average ten-year-old. Well, a ten-year-old operating a private detective agency and ridding a community of all crime using his clever skills of observation. Encyclopedia's father is the chief detective of the town of Idaville, and his toughest crimes are solved by his son at the dinner table. Encyclopedia charges 25 cents per day (plus expenses) for anyone seeking to hire the boy detective. Idaville is one safe place to live: "For nearly a whole year, no criminal had escaped arrest and no boy or girl had gotten away with breaking a single law in Idaville." Wow, this Encyclopedia kid practically has super powers. And he's only 10!

These books are particularly memorable because they are the kids-friendly option in the popular two-minute mystery genre. Boy Detective is the first book in a whole series of Encyclopedia Brown books. The book features ten short mysteries, with each story containing all the clues that children will need to solve the mystery on their own. Answers are found in the back of the book so readers can check to see if they have solved the crime along with Encyclopedia Brown. Reading these books as a kid (I had my mother's copies from the 60's ) I felt really smart. As an adult I just have to wonder how the adults in the stories could be so dumb!

The Encyclopedia Brown series has twenty-six books and ten related books about wacky facts/trivia. The first book was published in 1963, and the series has been republished and repackaged many times over. The latest cover has been updated for the 21st century with a photograph cover. Our library has paperbacks with the covers from the 80's. These are great stories for reluctant readers, male and female, and I remind kids that even Diary of a Wimpy Kid's Greg Heffley reads (and loves) Encyclopedia Brown! Check out a copy today @ your library!

[Retro Book of the Week celebrates the oldies-but-goodies in our media center. Books with faded covers can still have modern appeal! Sometimes I just want to celebrate the books that have influenced YA literature and my literary past, and sometimes I want to give new life to timeless classics. These features will be heavy on books from the 80's and 90's.]