Lessons from Encyclopedia Brown, 1-40

Bloggified by Jake on Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I owe so much to Encyclopedia Brown. If ever someone tries to fool me by telling me he was on a boat for the last seven months and just shaved off his beard while rubbing his tanned chin, I will know not to fall for it (if he'd had a beard, his chin would be white)! When someone tells me he suspected something was amiss because a frightened squirrel backed down a tree, I will know he's lying (squirrels can't back down trees, they turn around and scurry down head first)! When I receive an oddly worded ransom note, I know to analyze it for what letters are absent from the out-of-place words, for that will tip me off to which keys may be broken on the kidnapper/thief's typewriter. And whenever some local bully tries to set me up in an elaborate scheme to embarrass my father, the chief of police, I will know how to foil his plans through clever homonyms.

Unfortunately, not everyone has read Encyclopedia Brown's many adventures, so in the interest of education, I am compiling every solution I can remember from the 15-20 Encyclopedia Brown books I read and Encyclopedia Brown author Donald J. Sobel's Two Minute Mysteries--many of which were repeated--to help you solve crimes in your own neighborhood and avoid get-rich-quick scams!

1. That much gold/cash would weigh thousands of pounds and couldn't be carried by a single person!
2. If the sun was in his eyes, he couldn't have seen the shadow of the attacker sneaking up behind him!
3. If he'd never been there before, why did he say to the police "when you brought me back..."?!
4. A balloon blown up with someone's mouth doesn't float!
5. The letter/check/contract/will is a fake because June/April/September/November doesn't have 31 days!
6. Penguins only live at the South Pole!
7. Polar bears only live at the North Pole!
8. The chocolate isn't melted, so he couldn't have been standing out in the heat for an hour!
9. If he'd been wearing his watch the whole time he was tanning, there would be a tanline on his wrist!
10. All the grass under the tarp would have been dead and brown if he truly hadn't touched it in two or three months!
11. If he'd really just gotten home after driving all day from an out-of-town visit, the hood of the car would be extremely hot, yet his infant son is walking on it barefoot!
12. You can't fire seven shots from a six-gun!
13. The one would write his messages in the steam on the bathroom mirror, then open the window to clear the glass. The other would then come in to take a shower, and read the message that appeared!
14. A violinist/cellist would never practice in a chair with arms on it!
15. Female fireflies hide in tall grass and bushes, but the grass on the baseball/soccer/football field is short, so he couldn't have gotten the fireflies there!
16. A square manhole cover could fall through the manhole if it fell at the wrong angle, so they have to be round!
17. No one is to blame! When the caller from California said it was 4:30, he meant Pacific time, which was 7:30, or two and a half hours after everyone in the office had already gone home!
18. He indicated they walked/rode their bikes/drove past him from left to right, so there's now way he could have seen the message/picture/scar/tattoo/marking on the left side as he'd only see their right!
19. Dogs love salt which is why that one is licking the guilty party's feet, proving he lied about not wading into the ocean.
20. He couldn't have been in the backyard watering the flowers! The delivery truck was parked on the hose for several minutes, yet he never came to check why the water flow stopped!
21. Someone breathing through a six foot long tube underwater would just keep rebreathing the same air and pass out!
22. By sucking on ice, the kid numbed his tastebuds so he couldn't taste the terrible concoction/hot sauce!
23. All the wax dripped down the side of the candle facing the door/window, but the breeze from the night before should have blown it the opposite direction!
24. If his right arm is in a cast, there's no way he could have dropped the stolen penknife/coin/pen/gold watch into his right pocket while running away!
25. If his left arm is in a cast, there's no way he could have dropped the stolen keys/ring/antique Indian arrowhead/tire pressure gauge into his left pocket while running away!
26. Bronze can't strike sparks!
27. People sleep on trains with their heads toward the front!
28. A silver candlestick/coin/silverware left in a sack/drawer/box for 15/20/30 years would be tarnished, not shining!
29. There can be no cave drawings of dinosaurs because they were extinct millions of years before cave men were around.
30. Only the thief would know she meant the flower can and not the flour can!
31. Only the thief would know he said "an arrow flight away" and not "a narrow flight (of stairs) away!"
32. A deaf man wouldn't have set himself an alarm clock!
33. Tennis players' arm are mismatched, with one being more muscular than the other! And a tennis instructor would know that!
34. A sailor/yachtsman/ship's captain would never call the bow/the stern/port/starboard/a chart the front/the back/left/right/a map or give speed in "knots per hour!"
35. The last year that was the same upside-down and rightside-up was 1961!
36. Zebras' stripes are vertical, not horizontal!
37. Pizzas are always cut with an even number of pieces!
38. He didn't break in and replace the ice cubes with ginger ale! The ice cubes were made of frozen ginger ale!
39. He couldn't have made that toast for his sandwich is the power was out!
40. The flash from the camera would have turned the window into a reflective surface!

8 sarcastic replies:

LibrariAnne said...

This is amazing. I found it when explaining to a friend how I knew the "quick brown fox" typing exercise for typewriters... Who knew that Encyclopedia Brown had taught me so many other things that I wasn't as quick to remember.

TonyDuMont said...

Here are some cases from the extra books:

http://books.google.com/books?id=rmYEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA42&lpg=PA42&dq=Encyclopedia+brown+boys'+life&source=bl&ots=l93sduY-Pv&sig=qamTtaqNmAcIOjKH7wOTF1WPo_s&hl=en&ei=EN1YTPtXjcSwA82ihLAK&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDEQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=Encyclopedia%20brown%20boys'%20life&f=false

http://books.google.com/books?id=fWYEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA36&lpg=PA36&dq=Encyclopedia+brown+boys'+life+nest&source=bl&ots=xBXRFia-vy&sig=taNDtrp7FxapBP_wCbWkg_3TkO8&hl=en&ei=S91YTKGJGI30tgP_w7X9Cg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBYQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

And also, you should read #14, Encyclopedia Brown Carries On (this one is very hard to find), and #25, Encyclopedia Brown, Super Sleuth. And here are a few solutions you missed:

*He couldn't reply one the phone to the kidnappers because there is no Z on the telephone dial! (This one was before Q and Z were added)
*He couldn't have left from the attic window because it was still locked when he entered the house!
*He didn't have his steel foot warmer in the store because he bent down to pick up a baby, so he's the shoplifter!

TonyDuMont said...

And another one:

http://books.google.com/books?id=k_gDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA3&dq=encyclopedia+brown+two+headed+toothbrush&hl=en&ei=yThfTJX0B4P-8AbliY29DQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CEcQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=encyclopedia%20brown%20two%20headed%20toothbrush&f=false

TonyDuMont said...

Maybe I should add some more lessons from EB/Donald Sobol myself:

The bottom floor served by an elevator doesn't have an up and down button, only one button! Therefore he hid the key in the basement, not the subbasement!
When a vehicle is stopped, the objects inside are thrown in the same direction in which it was traveling!
If he had been tied with the hose for hours, the water inside would be warm, not cool!
A right-hander usually shaves his right sideburn higher than his left!
If she had been in the water for an hour, her fingers would be wrinkled, not smooth!
The words CHOICE COD appear the same when upside down and reflected in a mirror!
A skydiver never jumps with one parachute, always two for safety!
"Pig iron" appears on the telephone dial as 744-4766, the accessory's phone number! (The book had a typo, it was written as 744-4706)
A dollar bill is about 6 1/8 inches long, so the boy who collects money made the scratches that are spaced 6 1/8 inches apart!
Bugs rigged the raffle by freezing the winning ping pong ball, carrying it in his Thermos, and having his accomplice feel around for it!
He only saw the front of the robber, so he couldn't have identified him as the one who always wears a coat with a belt in the back! (This was EB's first published case)
The clown who dresses as a knight couldn't have committed the robbery because his rattling costume would have given him away!
Police cars have no handles in the inside back doors!
What made the baby birds prepare to eat was touching the nest!
Washing machines have lids on the top, but driers use side doors!
The suspect identified the hollow tree by the sound it made when he tapped it!
The ghost was a fake because he grabbed a candy bar with his hands! (Too easy.)
A ring's stone is worn on the opposite side of one's palm!
The man who said he didn't touch the "Benjamin Franklins" knew that the enveloped contained hundreds!
The president of the United States lives and works in the White House, the Capitol building is where Congress meets!
The stolen watch was set fifteen minutes ahead, so the one who arrived fifteen minutes early was the thief!
The bald runner doesn't own the gym bag because it contains hair gel! (Is Sobol dumbing everything down?)
How could he solve the math problem without knowing the divisor, unless he memorized it?
It's the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution, that promises life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!
How did she know her accuser uses superhero bedsheets when he doesn't have a clothesline in his backyard!
The opposing team turned over third base, that's why it doesn't have any footprints!
Nobody called the First Battle of Bull Run/World War that until after the second one began, so that artifact is a fake!
Frozen water bursts open jars! The medicine man was really selling alcohol!

TonyDuMont said...

Maybe I should add some more lessons from EB/Donald Sobol myself:

The bottom floor served by an elevator doesn't have an up and down button, only one button! Therefore he hid the key in the basement, not the subbasement!
When a vehicle is stopped, the objects inside are thrown in the same direction in which it was traveling!
If he had been tied with the hose for hours, the water inside would be warm, not cool!
A right-hander usually shaves his right sideburn higher than his left!
If she had been in the water for an hour, her fingers would be wrinkled, not smooth!
The words CHOICE COD appear the same when upside down and reflected in a mirror!
A skydiver never jumps with one parachute, always two for safety!
"Pig iron" appears on the telephone dial as 744-4766, the accessory's phone number! (The book had a typo, it was written as 744-4706)
A dollar bill is about 6 1/8 inches long, so the boy who collects money made the scratches that are spaced 6 1/8 inches apart!
Bugs rigged the raffle by freezing the winning ping pong ball, carrying it in his Thermos, and having his accomplice feel around for it!
He only saw the front of the robber, so he couldn't have identified him as the one who always wears a coat with a belt in the back! (This was EB's first published case)
The clown who dresses as a knight couldn't have committed the robbery because his rattling costume would have given him away!
Police cars have no handles in the inside back doors!
What made the baby birds prepare to eat was touching the nest!
Washing machines have lids on the top, but driers use side doors!
Nobody called the First Battle of Bull Run/World War that until after the second one began, so that artifact is a fake!
Frozen water bursts open jars! The medicine man was really selling alcohol!

TonyDuMont said...

And here are some more, from the latest Encyclopedia Brown book:

The suspect identified the hollow tree by the sound it made when he tapped it!
The ghost was a fake because he grabbed a candy bar with his hands! (Too easy.)
A ring's stone is worn on the opposite side of one's palm!
The man who said he didn't touch the "Benjamin Franklins" knew that the enveloped contained hundreds!
The president of the United States lives and works in the White House, the Capitol building is where Congress meets!
The stolen watch was set fifteen minutes ahead, so the one who arrived fifteen minutes early was the thief!
The bald runner doesn't own the gym bag because it contains hair gel! (Is Sobol dumbing everything down?)
How could he solve the math problem without knowing the divisor, unless he memorized it?
It's the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution, that promises life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!
How did she know her accuser uses superhero bedsheets when he doesn't have a clothesline in his backyard!
The opposing team turned over third base, that's why it doesn't have any footprints!

Also, a sailor would say "galley" instead of kitchen, "line" instead of rope, and "bulkhead" instead of wall.

TonyDuMont said...

I almost forgot some, from Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Disgusting Sneakers, as well as the comic strip by Elliot Caplin:

The code was made by removing "day" from each day of the week and scrambling the remaining letters! So he hid the loot under a fir tree!
Chinese teacups don't have handles!
If the vase had been smashed on the back of his head, the pieces wouldn't be under him!
The words each have three consecutive letters, as does the name "crabcake," so the "ABC" truck driver did it!
Since the lighter sister was the last person in the canoe and first one out, the rainwater would have been tilted away from her, yet she left wet footprints!
Since the object of the game was to name three-letter body parts, he chewed gum to give her the last word!
Anything carved into a tree will stay at the same height no matter how high the tree grows!
The clothing store was closed, so when she said to keep the length and get rid of the gray, she was going to the beauty parlor!
The victim only said she was clipping her nails, so the guilty one is the one who said she had been clipping her toenails!
If the pots are being sold in Spain as copies, they wouldn't say "copy" in English, so they must be real ones!
Even-numbered highways run east-west, while odd-numbered highways run north-south!
The lowercase words, "cue," "ewe," "eye," "ell," and "tea" mean he hid the money in his quilt!
If the trail had been left a week ago, a dog would be unable to follow the scent!
Mackerel are salt-water fish, so they don't live in fresh water!
Objects in a river never float upstream!

Pancho said...

The robber took the fake (glass) "diamond" necklace, because if he'd tossed the fake (glass) "diamond" necklac down to the stone floor a floor below, it would have shattered!

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