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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fare thee well, Encyclopedia Brown

 by J. R. Wagner

While in my car yesterday, I was listening to NPR and heard that the author of the Encyclopedia Brown series, Donald Sobol passed away last week.

You can listen to the story HERE

I'm guessing at least half of you are wondering; who the heck is Encyclopedia Brown?

In THIS ARTICLE on Huffington Post.com,  Eva Glettner brilliantly described EB this way:

"Encyclopedia Brown Urges Children To Embrace Their Inner Nerd"

The first Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective, was published in 1963 -wayyyy before I was born.  Seriously.  The cover has no doubt gone through several modifications to appeal to the audience of the times. Below are a  few examples.

 My mom used to read these books to me as a child (No doubt to help improve my pathetic reasoning skills.) and I used to absolutely love them.  I wanted to be Encyclopedia Brown (except I wasn't nearly smart enough and had the focus of a meal worm).

I think part of the allure was Brown's ability to stick it to the adults.  Nothing earns you respect on the playground faster than the ability to make your teachers and parents look like idiots.  Encyclopedia Brown was a master of picking out the obscure clues and putting them together to solve a mystery.

Before even Scooby Doo (1976) and friends came riding along in their pimped out 1963 Ford Econoline ready to solve mysteries, EB was tearing it up.
Another point of interest was the bad-ass female character in the EB series.  Sally Kimball was not only the apple of every male EB reader's eye, but she was tough. Super tough. Tough a-la Uma Therman in Kill Bill. This modern view on being tough and female and acceptable was arguably ground breaking in children's literature.

Uma Therman -Kill Bill superstar

Since 1963, Sobol wrote 28 EB books including one coming out next fall.  They've been translated into twelve languages and have inspired generations of boys to use brains over brawn when solving problems. (leave the brawn to the girls)

Once we get through the Magic Tree house series, I think I'll introduce my daughter to EB.

As always, find interviews, writing samples, videos, contests and more on my website.

In bookstores now

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