E is for Encyclopedia Brown


Encyclopedia Brown made me feel so dumb when I was growing up.

He was 10, but had all the answers.  I thought I was pretty smart, but I couldn’t figure out the mysteries most of the time.  It’s many years later, but I remember that in one mystery, someone said that thunder woke them up, and then they saw something in the flash of lightning.  Encyclopedia said they were lying.  I couldn’t figure out how he knew, but the answer was that thunder comes after lightning, not before.  To this day, that’s how I remember which comes first.

I loved these books, and they were my first experience with logic puzzles.  After I grew out of reading them, I read other mysteries, like the Father Brown mystery series.  (A good adult series, if you haven’t read it.  They’re by GK Chesterton.)  I also couldn’t get enough of those logic puzzles that present you with information, and you have to figure out what belongs to who, or who did what.  Like these.  And of course, when computers were just becoming popular, I loved Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?

This series had a huge impact on me and the way I thought.  I learned that every mystery has an answer, even if I can’t figure it out.  It’s an important distinction in my mind because it helped me look critically at things that happened in stories and life.  Encyclopedia Brown taught me to pay attention to every detail, because any detail might be important.

Thanks, Leroy.