Ten-year-old Leroy Brown, nicknamed “Encyclopedia” because of his incredible memory, is known throughout town for his amazing gift at solving puzzles. With the help of his friend Sally Kimball, he runs a business solving mysteries for neighborhood kids (25 cents per day, plus expenses). And his father, the local police chief, always knows what to do if he’s stumped on a case—go home to dinner and tell Encyclopedia all about it. In ten solve-it-yourself-style short stories, Encyclopedia and Sally discover clues, track down crooks, and take on everything from local shoplifting to a missing diamond necklace.
I started reading the Encyclopedia Brown books when I was in second grade, and I still find them utterly brilliant. They’re all but impossible to grow out of, and in fact older readers (from middle-schoolers to adults) with more general knowledge might enjoy them more than younger ones—often all that you need to solve a case is a bit of random knowledge and a skill for noticing details! Encyclopedia and Sally are great protagonists, and various quirky supporting characters keep the mysteries constantly entertaining. Whether he’s outwitting the neighborhood bully or helping his father unravel a perplexing new case, Encyclopedia’s adventures are perfect reading material for mystery lovers ages seven and up. And if you enjoy reading about kid detectives, be sure to check out the Meg Mackintosh mysteries (another solve-it-yourself series) by Lucinda Landon, James Ponti’s T.O.A.S.T. series, and Linda Fairstein’s Devlin Quick Mysteries!