Encyclopedia Brown

since 1963. Only his parents and teachers call him by his given name of Leroy (a name he dislikes); the rest of the neighborhood children refer to him as Encyclopedia due to his intelligence and cleverness.


Books featuring Brown are subdivided into a number of (possibly interlinked) short stories, each of which presents a mystery. The mystery is always intended to be solved by the reader, thanks to the placement of a logical or factual inconsistency somewhere within the text. Brown invariably solves the case by exposing this inconsistency, but this part of the story is placed at the back of the book; the bulk of the story ends just at the moment when readers are invited to solve the case themselves, or flip to the section in the back with the answers.

Most 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 . The second chapter 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." This second case usually involves the town bully, Bugs Meany, who, after being foiled, attempts revenge in the third case and chapter. Encyclopedia's other main nemesis is Wilford Wiggins, a teenage con artist who is always concocting elaborate schemes to trick the children of Idaville out of their money. Encyclopedia takes cases involving Wilford for no charge.

Playing Watson to Brown's Holmes is Sally Kimball, his friend and occasional bodyguard. Despite her tomboyish nature (she is reputed to be the only child in the area, male or female, whom Bugs Meany fears), Sally is rather well-educated in and observant of etiquette, and sometimes solves cases where a lack of etiquette is the tip-off.

The enduring popularity of the "Encyclopedia Brown" books stems, at least partially, from the author's refusal to talk down to his young audience. Many adult readers also find the mysteries challenging. In 1975, the Mystery Writers of America honored Sobol and his Encyclopedia Brown series with a Special Edgar Award.

The books were originally published by Lodestar Books (a branch of E.P. Dutton). Since then, the company has folded and Bantam Skylark has owned the publishing rights since the 1980s. Current editions of the books feature new illustrations in place of the originals by Leonard Shortall, updated to contemporary cultural styles.

Encyclopedia Brown inspired many other solve-it-yourself mystery stories for younger readers, such as "Einstein" Anderson, and Hawkeye Collins & Amy Adams.

TV series on HBO

A TV series of Encyclopedia Brown premiered on Home Box Office (HBO) in 1989 with 30 minute episodes. Scott Bremner played the title role with Laura Bridge playing Sally. The live action series ran a little over 10 episodes, which was produced by Howard Deutch and directed by Savage Steve Holland. [ [http://www.tv.com/Encyclopedia-Brown/show/25050/summary.html HBO's "Encyclopedia Brown"] ] [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096576/ TV series-Encyclopedia Brown] ]

Novel series

The Encyclopedia Brown books, in order of publication and as numbered by original release cover art, are:

#"Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective" (1963, ISBN 0-525-67200-1, 1982 reissue ISBN 0-553-15724-8)
#"Encyclopedia Brown Strikes Again (the Case of the Secret Pitch)" (1965, ISBN 0-590-01650-4, second title reissue ISBN 0-525-67202-8)
#"Encyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues" (1966, ISBN 0-525-67204-4)
#"Encyclopedia Brown Gets His Man" (1967, ISBN 0-525-67206-0)
#"Encyclopedia Brown Solves Them All" (1968, ISBN 0-525-67212-5)
#"Encyclopedia Brown Keeps The Peace" (1969, ISBN 0-525-67208-7)
#"Encyclopedia Brown Saves the Day" (1970, ISBN 0-525-67210-9)
#"Encyclopedia Brown Tracks Them Down" (1971, ISBN 0-553-15721-3)
#"Encyclopedia Brown Shows the Way" (1972, ISBN 0-553-15142-X)
#"Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Case" (1973, ISBN 0-553-15723-X)
#"Encyclopedia Brown Lends a Hand" (1974, ISBN 0-553-48133-9, reissued as "Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Exploding Plumbing and Other Mysteries", ISBN 0-590-44093-4)
#"Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Dead Eagles" (1975, ISBN 0-590-43343-1)
#"Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Midnight Visitor" (1977, ISBN0-553-15586-5)
#"Encyclopedia Brown Carries On" (1980, ISBN 0-027-86190-2)
#"Encyclopedia Brown Sets the Pace" (1981, ISBN 0-027-86200-3)
#:15½. "Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Cake" (1982, ISBN 0590078437) (Co-written with Glenn Andrews)
#"Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Mysterious Handprints" (1985, ISBN 0-553-15739-6)
#"Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Treasure Hunt" (1988, ISBN 0-553-15650-0)
#"Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Disgusting Sneakers" (1990, ISBN 0688090125)
#"Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Two Spies" (1995, ISBN 0385320361)
#"Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Pablo's Nose" (1996, ISBN 0385321848)
#"Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Sleeping Dog" (1998, ISBN 0385325762)
#"Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Slippery Salamander" (2000, ISBN 0385325797)
#"Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Jumping Frogs" (2003, ISBN 0385729316)
#"Encyclopedia Brown Cracks the Case" (2007, ISBN 978-0-525-47924-6)

Related works

*"Encyclopedia Brown's Book of Strange But True Crimes" (1992, ISBN 0590441485)
*"Encyclopedia Brown's Book of Wacky Animals" (1985, ISBN 0553153463)
*"Encyclopedia Brown's Book of Wacky Cars" (1987, ISBN 0688062229)
*"Encyclopedia Brown's Book of Wacky Crimes"
*"Encyclopedia Brown's Book of Wacky Outdoors"
*"Encyclopedia Brown's Book of Wacky Spies"
*"Encyclopedia Brown's Book of Wacky Sports"
*"Encyclopedia Brown's Record Book of Weird and Wonderful Facts" (1979, ISBN 0440023297)
*"Encyclopedia Brown's Second Record Book of Weird and Wonderful Facts" (1981, ISBN 0440022606)
*"Encyclopedia Brown's Third Record Book of Weird and Wonderful Facts" (1985, ISBN 0688057055)

*There have been several satires of Encyclopedia Brown including one by "The Onion". [http://www.theonion.com/content/node/29537] Adam Cadre wrote a parody of Encyclopedia Brown which satirizes Wikipedia. [http://adamcadre.ac/content/brown/] Jay Russel's novel Brown Harvest is a pastiche of Dashiel Hammett's Red Harvest featuring Brown (unnamed) and several other characters from children's literature as adults.

*Bill Amend made reference to the Encyclopedia Brown series in the title of a 2001 compilation of FoxTrot comics- "Encyclopedias Brown and White" ( [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0740718509] Amazon.com]

*Tom Tomorrow's comic on Salon.com, "This Modern World," also occasionally features a parody called Conservative Jones.

*In the movie "1408", Mike Enslin (John Cusack) says, "Let's 'Encyclopedia Brown' this bitch," when trying to come up with a rational explanation for the strange, but minor occurrences during his first few minutes in a dreaded hotel room.

*Zebra Crossing, a theatre company in New York, has created a series of plays featuring the character of Wikipedia Brown. Written by Drayton Hiers and Chloë Bass, and loosely inspired by the young detectives genre (including The Hardy Boys, Scooby Doo, and Hawkeye Collins, as well as Encyclopedia Brown), the series features a pair of detectives in their twenties, solving topical and socially related crimes in The City. The first play, "Wikipedia Brown and The Case of The Mysterious Development" was workshopped in Bushwick, Brooklyn in fall 2007.
*In the second season of the television show "Veronica Mars", the main character suggests that a client hire Encyclopedia Brown to solve the case.

*There has been a question on the popular game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" which asked for the real name of Encyclopedia Brown. The answer, of course, is Leroy.

*An episode of Reno 911! features a skit based around a writer whose house is on fire. Lt. Dangle asks the man about the novel the man wants to save from the fire, which the man says is about a person whose father sends him clues about his death years after the fact. Dangle surmises the plot is a copy of the movie Frequency, while officer Junior thinks it's a ripoff of an Encyclopedia Brown story.

*Comedian/Actor/Writer B.J.Novak, of NBC's The Office, has a stand up routine entitled "Wikipedia Brown". The bit makes reference to the vast usage of Wikipedia as a research tool.

*Hip Hop artist Keith Murray references Encyclopedia Brown in his song "The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World," rhyming, "Never fakin I gets down for my crown clown; Shakin the membrane of Encyclopedia Brown."


External links

* [http://www.thrillingdetective.com/eyes/encyclopedia.html Encyclopedia Brown at Thrilling Detective]
* [http://www.kidsreads.com/series/series-brown.asp Encyclopedia Brown at KidsReads.com]
*imdb title|id=0096576|title=Encyclopedia Brown (TV series)

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