FAREWELL, ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN
“You have a mystery you want solved?” The fifth grader asked.
“Yeah,” I said. “I hear you’re the best detective in Idaville.”
“I just use my powers of observation.”
“So you’ll help me.”
The boy looked at his watch. “Well, it is almost dinner time. I usually knock out these mysteries over dinner with my dad, the chief of police, but I guess I can listen.”
“Okay,well something’s missing,” I said. “Someone, actually.”
“Who is it?”
“A childhood hero. Encyclopedia Brown. He was the famous “boy detective” in some of my favorite kids’ stories by Donald Sobol. He’d collect the clues about some neighborhood crime or scam, then solve the mystery before the cops even knew what was going on. Then at the end, the reader gets to guess how the kid solved the mystery. Awesome. I spent a lot of my childhood playing detective because of him. Encyclopedia Brown was a genius.”
A smile flickered across the boy’s lips. “When did you see him last?” he asked.
“When I was about ten. This bodybuilder was selling this secret potion to make you all muscular practically overnight. Except Encyclopedia noticed the guy’s old wrinkly suit he said he’d had forever fit perfectly. If he’d gotten all filled out in no time, his suit wouldn’t have fit so Encyclopedia knew the potion was phony.”
“Sounds like a pretty smart guy.”
“And there was this other case where he figured out that the guy who won the bitter-drink drinking contest cheated.”
“Well,” I said, “it was a hot day and the guy was chewing ice chips to stay cool. But Encyclopedia figured out chewing ice also froze his taste buds so the guy couldn’t taste anything. He had no trouble with that awful tasting drink because he couldn’t taste it. Brilliant.”
The boy detective nodded. “Yep. Also, I’ve solved your case.”
“Yes. Your childhood hero isn’t missing at all.”
“Nope. He’s still here.”
HOW DID HE KNOW?
SOLUTION: Encyclopedia knew my hero wasn’t really lost to me because I told him it was my childhood hero, even though I’m definitely not a child. These wonderful stories have stayed with me all these years. Nothing is lost. Case solved.
Rest in peace, Donald Sobol.