Book Review: Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol

Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective
Donald J. Sobol

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A Civil War sword…A watermelon stabbing…

Missing roller skates…

A trapeze artist’s inheritance…

And an eyewitness who’s legally blind!

Theses are just some of the ten brain-twisting mysteries that Encyclopedia Brown must solve by using his famous computer-like brain. Try to crack the cases along with him–the answer to all the mysteries are found in the back!

I decided to pick this up when I saw it at Half Price Books one time. I did this because I had never read it. I felt like I had missed out a bit by not reading it when I was younger, so I decided to pick it up. I am glad I did! I rather enjoyed this rather quick and simple read. Sometimes, as an adult, I think I get wrapped up on having to read “high brow” or intellectual literature, but I found that this was by far more entertaining and I noticed that it seemed to shake some cobwebs out of my mind. The reason it shook cobwebs out of my brain? This book contains short stories that are mysteries that are being solved by the title character. He is a “boy detective”, like the title states, that goes around solving various mysteries in his hometown for 25 cents. The beauty, the solutions are in the back of the book, so as a reader you have to be somewhat engaged with the story to recognize what the person did to trip themselves up and how Encyclopedia cracks the case. I was able to solve pretty much every single one of these stories, but it was not totally about them being simple for me because I was enjoying the ride to get there. I was analyzing what was said by characters, I was thinking through plot points in the story, and I was reading as an engaged reader. I think that is by far more important than “was this in my age category?” because of course NO IT WASN’T but who the flip cares?

Some of the stories did seem a bit dated and that they needed a little sprucing up to be a little more modern, but this is expected when a book was written in 1963! There is no mention of cell phones, video games, or those types of things in here. It doesn’t feel appropriate to have them either. I think you have to go in knowing that this was a story written in a very different time period for children. If you do, you will enjoy it, but if you think this is a modern read you may find yourself a bit disappointed.

The beauty of this book, for me, was truly that engagement with it. It was less about characterizations, which there is some,  or setting or other important literary devices that seem to be so vital in most reviews. I just found myself wanting to know what happened. I wanted to know if I was correct on the solution, even if I knew half the time I was. Reading is supposed to be fun and this book of simple little mysteries was just that. I would recommend it to anyone wanting a quick read that simply needs something that they are aren’t going to have to think a lot about or feel like they have to engage with a lot of political, social, or other aspects that have become synonymous with reading and specifically if you are a book blogger with blogging on books. These things are important, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it is awesome to simply read a book and go “well that was a fluff read and SUPER FUN!”

Encyclopedia Brown is a series of books! There are 29 books within the main series,
with the last book in the series being published in 2012.

2 Replies to “Book Review: Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol”

  1. Gayathri

    I love books that are timeless and do not depend on the age to enjoy it. There are very few books that can work like this for me.

    • cgwinters1981 Post author

      Yes, this was very timeless. There, however, were a few moments were it was like “okay this is definitely written in another time.” I would love to hear about some timeless books for you sometime! Thanks for visiting!


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