Donald J. Sobol, the creator of Encyclopedia Brown, dead at 87

Donald Sobel, creator of Encyclopedia Brown

Donald J. Sobol, the creator of Encyclopedia Brown, the clever boy detective who made bookworms of many a reluctant young reader, died on Wednesday in South Miami. He was 87. An Encyclopedia Brown story.

The cause was gastric lymphoma, his son John said.

Mr. Sobol’s books have been translated into 12 languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide, according to his publisher, Penguin Young Readers Group. He continued to write every day until a month or so before his death, his son said. The 28th book in the series, “Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Soccer Scheme,” is to be published in October.

The first Encyclopedia Brown book came out in 1963 (after being rejected by two dozen publishers, something Mr. Sobol liked to tell aspiring writers to encourage them not to lose faith in their work).

Mr. Sobol found a winning formula and stuck to it. Each book holds 10 stories, each involving a mystery that 10-year-old Leroy (Encyclopedia) Brown solves by keen observation and deduction. He notices that the culprit has his sweater on inside out, or claims to smell flowers that are fake. The rest is self-evident. The solution is not spelled out in the story; readers are challenged to figure it out for themselves — or to flip to the back for the answer, as Jack Nicholson’s character in the movie “About Schmidt” does as he lies in bed, engrossed in “Encyclopedia Brown Gets His Man.”

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