Juvenile readers with a taste for mystery and adventure needed look no further than the long-running series ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN by Donald J. Sobol! 5th graders throughout the land thrilled to the crime-busting cases of the brainy Brown and his brawny companion Sally, who was always around to provide the muscle sometimes necessary in the sub-deb detective business. But didja know there was an Encyclopedia Brown newspaper strip? Unless you are Encyclopedia Brown I bet you didn't! Adapted by longtime strip scribe (and Al Capp sibling) Elliot Caplin and drawn by a hand suspiciously similar to that of industry veteran and current "Apartment 3-G" artist Frank Bolle, the adventures of Encyclopedia Brown careened across newspaper pages sometime in the late 1970s. Details are sketchy. Who can ferret out the truth? Encyclopedia Brown!
His sharp eyes and coldly logical mind make Encyclopedia Brown the terror of fake blind men everywhere. But what does he do for relaxation?
Sometimes he sits on the corner of his desk in the Brown's garage and poses like he's in a cigarette ad. "If I could smoke, I'd smoke Winstons!"
Sometimes he and Sally go downtown and pretend to be "Mannix." But there's no rest for the detectives - strange situations and mysteries are always happening to Encyclopedia and pals!
For instance, it's mysterious how when you take panels out of context the dialog sounds amusingly off-color!
Encyclopedia is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about cellists and tight skirts.
Never proud, Encyclopedia is always hiding behind Sally and letting her handle the "big ones". But enough cheap laughs. Let's examine one of Encyclopedia's toughest cases - the case of the missing baseball card! Read carefully and if you spot the clue you'll solve the case before Encyclopedia does!
If you paid careful attention, you will have noticed that the one character they consistenly show full-length is the criminal, who (a) got up this morning, (b) dressed like a jogger, (c) wore his dress shoes with the hollow heel, so that he could (d) go to the yard sale to (e) steal baseball cards he somehow knew were going to be there. That's a degree of planning and forethought you don't often see in yard sale shoplifting.
Science plays a part in crime-solving too, as we'll see!
Here Encyclopedia helpfully details the difference between farsighted and nearsighted, and Sally details how exactly she will mete out justice to whichever twin stole her bike.
Optics also play a part in solving this kidnap case, as a kidnap gang is foiled when their victim uses the magnifying powers of plain ordinary water to read the hotel stationery these kidnappers have stupidly left lying around the victim's room. Funny, isn't it, how criminals always make that one fatal error that allows 12 year old detectives to solve the case.
But Encyclopedia's career isn't always crime and kidnappings and farsightedness and nearsightedness. Sometimes celebrities bring glamour and excitement to Idaville!
Here Gary Coleman, star of TV's "Diff'rent Strokes", desperately searches for his missing typewriter so that he can write professional looking letters to his lawyer in an attempt to make sure he keeps some of the millions his TV career is earning him! Who can help? Encyclopedia Brown!
Now around this time I'm sure some of you out there still in touch with your inner Scholastic Book Club Memberships are saying, "Hey, what about Bugs Meany?" Yes, what about Bugs? The neighborhood bully and nemesis of Encyclopedia Brown is remarkably under-represented in the volume of Encyclopedia Brown strips in our posession. However, he does make a token appearance.
Here Encyclopedia urges Bugs to "climb up the sheets" and trespass inside the hotel room of a famous movie star. Instead of being part of the obvious gambit of having Bugs arrested for hotel room invasion, this is merely a ploy on Encyclopedia's part to expose celebrities as the lying publicity-fiends they are. "Oh Bugs," indeed.
And to wrap up let's take one more look at Encyclopedia Brown's genius for solving any riddle fate may throw at him.
Merely by watching a horse run around a track, Encyclopedia can go from complete ignorance about horse racing ("Is that good?") to expounding upon the subject at length, laying down trivia about how jockeys ride in the saddle and which direction horses race when you're in Europe. Sometimes we get the feeling that Encyclopedia Brown knows all the answers already and is just going through the motions to make the rest of us feel stupid. Sometimes we wish Bugs Meany would manage to pop Encyclopedia a fast one in the nose before that Sally has a chance to react. Also sometimes... sometimes we get the feeling that we're really tired of typing "Encyclopedia Brown" over and over and over.
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