Guest Author - Michelle Taylor
Review: Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Midnight Visitor
"Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Midnight Visitor" by Donald J. Sobol (A Bantam Book w/ arrangements w/ Lodestar Books, 1977; 128 pages. Age: 9-12. Soft cover, $4.99).
In this 13th installment of nearly 25 books that Donald Sobol wrote about the pre-teen sleuth, Encyclopedia works on 10 new cases. Some of which even help his Dad, the chief of police of Idaville!
For those of you unfamiliar with the junior-league detective, here’s the background. Leroy Brown, (known as Encyclopedia to all but his parents and teachers), is a fifth grader of extraordinary intelligence that puts his brains to use by helping solve mysteries. Some of these he does for free, to help the police out; and some he does as part of his “Brown Detective Agency; 25¢ per day plus expenses”. With his faithful partner, Sally, (think Dr. Watson, but cuter and with a mean right hook) he has a spotless record.
In this book Encyclopedia helps the police solve three cases; a kidnapped husband, a Chicago gangster knocked out in the bus terminal and a bank robbery with a hit and run escape!
But what the kids really love are the “backyard” detective cases. Encyclopedia’s arch-nemesis Bugs Meany is back in two of the mysteries; a simple theft case and something much more despicable. Bugs has finally figured out a way to frame Encyclopedia for a crime, AND have the police catch him in the act! Also included are a fixed tennis tourney, a missing lunch, a stinky boy with mosquitoes, some artistic gerbils, and someone has stolen Sally’s cat, Juno (oh I pity the fool)!
What makes Sobol’s books so much fun for the kids AND so educational is he gets them thinking. This isn’t like your average mystery book where your author tries to keep you gusseing until the end and then surprises you. Mr. Sobel intentionally drops clues throughout the story for children to find, and invites them to solve the mystery at the end of each story. At the back of the book are the answers to each of the mysteries, so if a child gets too frustrated, they can always check. But I urge parents to sit down with your kids on this series. I realize this is an age that we normally don’t read to, but this is a great opportunity to share a love of books with your child and get involved with them in something fun and challenging. Plus, just wait ‘till they solve one YOU can’t!
The article was written by Michelle Taylor.