"Encyclopedia Brown" Author Donald J. Sobol Dies at 87

6 years ago

Donald J. Sobol, author of the beloved Encyclopedia Brown books, died on July 11 at the age of 87 of natural causes. Upon release of the news, social media streams quickly filled with remembrances of the author and his iconic boy detective, Leroy "Encyclopedia" Brown.

My own memories of the books take me back to elementary school. I recall sitting on the floor, my head tilted up and listening intently as my teacher read the stories to us. I always hoped that maybe this time I might solve the puzzle. I never did as a child. It seems I wasn't alone in my failure to figure out the mysteries.

A few years ago I decided that one of my reading goals that year would be to revisit the Brown Detective Agency in Idaville. It only took more than 20 years from the first time I read one of the books but I finally figured out at least one of the mysteries on my own. As much as I considered that a personal accomplishment, I was more impressed by what I found in the characters themselves. I had been prodded into rereading the books by my friend Kate's post on why she still loves Encyclopedia Brown and I couldn't help but notice how she gives Sally Kimball a fabulous shout-out.

"But brawny though she is, she's no bully. She too uses her powers for good, protecting younger, smaller kids from Bugs Meaney, and also, together with a team of fifth-grade girls, devastating Bugs and his gang in a girls-against-the-boys game of softball. And besides her physical toughness and athletic prowess, Sally is also pretty and smart (almost, but not quite smart enough to stump Encyclopedia with a logical puzzle of her own devising). So she becomes not just Encyclopedia's bodyguard, but also his partner in the detective agency."

Not only did Sobol make intelligence cool and powerful, he did it for both girls and boys. He also made those same qualities attractive and people chimed in on Twitter to share their crushes on the characters.

The Encyclopedia Brown books were a large part of childhood and I am a little sad to think there will be no more of them. I'm not the only one to feel that way.

Yes, thank you Mr. Sobol. Thank you for making smart boys and girls. Thank you for introducing me to the fun in figuring out a mystery, even if I didn't ever figure out one of yours when I was a child. Thank you for helping me to develop a joy of reading. Rest in peace.

BlogHer Book Club Host Karen Ballum also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

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