Ah, Idaville. The one place crooks are afraid of. What looked like an ordinary seaside town from the outside was anything but on the inside. You see, no one in Idaville got away with breaking the law. What was the secret?
The secret could be found in a red brick house at 13 Rover Avenue. There lived America's Sherlock Holmes in sneakers, Encyclopedia Brown. No one except his parents knew that he was Idaville's secret.
Encyclopedia's father was chief of police. When he came up against a case he couldn't solve, he knew what to do. He went home to dinner. Encyclopedia solved the case for him before dessert. Chief Brown would like to tell the world. But who would believe him? So he said nothing. Encyclopedia never spoke about the help he gave his father. He didn't want to seem different from other boys. But there was nothing he could do about his nickname. He was stuck with it.
Only his parents and teachers called him by his real name, Leroy. Everyone else called him Encyclopedia. An encyclopedia is a book or set of books filled with facts from A to Z. So was Encyclopedia's head. He had read more books than anyone in Idaville, and he never forgot anything he read.
Encyclopedia helped his father solve mysteries year-round. During the summer, he helped the children of the neighborhood as well.
When school let out, he opened his own detective agency in the family garage. Every morning he hung out his sign:
BROWN DETECTIVE AGENCY
13 Rover Avenue
No case too small
25¢ per day plus expenses
The first customer Monday morning was someone Encyclopedia had never met before. He looked like an orange circle with eyes, a mouth, arms, and legs, and he wore a blue hat. He stopped at the driveway and stretched one of his arms to lay a quarter on the gas can beside Encyclopedia. "I want to hire you," he said. "My cousin's gone missing." Encyclopedia looked at the orange circle. "Have we met?" he asked. "Oh," said the orange circle. "I almost forgot. I'm Mr. Tickle."
He explained. He was a Mr. Man, visiting from the town of Dillydale with his sister, Little Miss Knots, his friend, Mr. Clever, and his cousins, Mr. Tall and Little Miss Somersault. "We're all at the same room at the Idaville Hotel: Room 225. Except Mr. Clever. He's in Room 226. I left my room earlier this morning, and when I returned, Miss Somersault was gone!" "Don't worry, Mr. Tickle. I'll find her," said Encyclopedia. "What does she look like?" "She's blue and round," said Mr. Tickle, and she has yellow hair, a green headband, a pink nose, a pink bow, orange and white sneakers, a yellow shirt, and a red skirt. Oh, and her arms and legs can stretch." He showed Encyclopedia a picture of her. "Bugs Meany might have done this," thought Encyclopedia.
Bugs Meany was the leader of a group of older boys called the Tigers. They should have called themselves the Broken Pencils. Nothing they did ever had a point.
"Follow me," said Mr. Tickle, and Encyclopedia followed him to the Idaville Hotel. When they entered Room 225, Mr. Tickle introduced Encyclopedia to Mr. Tall and Miss Knots. Encyclopedia looked at them. They were both round, like Mr. Tickle. Mr. Tall was dark blue with long legs, and he wore brown shoes and a dark red hat with a yellow stripe. Miss Knots was orange, like her brother, and she had long arms and legs, a green nose, and red hair. She wore an orange and white sneaker on her right foot, a blue and white sneaker on her left foot, long blue pants, orange gloves, and a yellow hooded jacket. She had the hood on. Encyclopedia asked Mr. Tickle, "Does Miss Knots usually wear mismatched shoes?" "Sometimes," said Mr. Tickle, "but not usually." "Were you all outside the room when Miss Somersault disappeared?" asked Encyclopedia. "Yes," said Mr. Tickle. "I was downstairs, Mr. Tall was at the pool, and Miss Knots was in Mr. Clever's room. Miss Somersault stayed in here when we all left. When we came back, she was gone!"
Then Encyclopedia noticed the thermostat. It was at 90 degrees. "Miss Knots," he asked, "why are you wearing that jacket and those long pants?" "In case it gets cold," replied Miss Knots. "Why?" Then, turning to Mr. Tickle, Encyclopedia said, "I know where Miss Somersault is."
See the next chapter for the solution to The Case of the Missing Little Miss.