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The Day Encyclopedia Brown Cried

Posted on the 17 July 2012 by Storycarnivores @storycarnivores

The Day Encyclopedia Brown CriedI’m the polar opposite of a reluctant reader. A precocious reader? A veracious reader? Whatever.

But, as a writer, a teacher, and a mother, I get excited about any book that excites reluctant readers. Reading is a skill that becomes more fun as the reader improves. Improvement happens with practice. And some books make that practice irresistible. Recently, that’s the Harry Potter series, or the Hunger Games series.

But since the 1960s, it’s been Encyclopedia Brown. In the 1970s, my elementary school had a little row of these cool little books that made the kid reading it figure out the mystery all by themselves (you could turn to the back to find out if you were right.) I read them all in the second grade. I’m willing to bet that the Charles F. Kettering Elementary School library still has the same books, with my name written on the card. And I know for sure that over the last thirty years, lots of kids have read them and become real readers thanks to them.

The Day Encyclopedia Brown Cried

Donald Sobol wrote 28 Encyclopedia Brown books. He wrote right up until a month ago. His last book will be published in October. Mr. Sobol died last Wednesday at 87. He didn’t die rich. But he left behind a rich body of work, all still in print, that I am quite sure my grandkids, and maybe even their grandkids, will read.

Thanks to Mr. Sobol, I know that hard boiled eggs spin fast, and raw eggs wobble. After I read the book where Encyclopedia Brown used that bit of knowledge to solve the mystery, my mom boiled me an egg so I could try it out. It worked! That was one of the highlights of my first seven years.

Mr. Sobol had an enviable work ethic. He is said to have written every day, up to about a month before he died. He published 65 books, including several non-fiction titles on a wide variety of subjects. But his enduring legacy, without a doubt is Encyclopedia Brown. The first book in the series was rejected by two dozen publishers.

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