Because no book series from your childhood is safe from studio executives, it was announced this week that Warner Bros. is developing an Encyclopedia Brown movie, a development that comes not even two weeks after 20th Century Fox revealed its own plans to put Choose Your Own Adventure on the big screen. Though the two literary franchises are different in one key way — the Encyclopedia Brown books followed the continuing adventures of the titular boy detective and his adversary Bugs Meany, while the Choose Your Own Adventure series started fresh every time — they both come correct when it comes to their book titles. Independent of any context, then, we’ve ranked every one of those Donald J. Sobol–penned books from the most to the least exciting, based on their names alone. (And you won’t have to flip to the Answers section in the back of the book to find out why.)
1. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret UFO
What? Encyclopedia Brown is getting all supernatural on us? Well, not exactly: When presented with a photo of a UFO, of course Encyclopedia Brown has to be a giant buzzkill and point out why it can’t be real. Still, it suggests a promising Syfy series: Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Debunker.
2. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Dead Eagles
3. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Disgusting Sneakers
Well, those are evocative.
4. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Pablo’s Nose
Certainly the most surreal and intriguing of these titles. Turns out Pablo is “Idaville’s greatest boy artist,” whose replacement nose for an Abraham Lincoln statue is purloined. So the title could have been Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Abe Lincoln’s Nose? Even better!
5. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Midnight Visitor
Encyc (can we call you Encyc?), here’s a little bit of life advice: Enjoy your childhood now, because the older you get, the more often your sleep is going to be interrupted by midnight visitors.
6. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Two Spies
7. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Treasure Hunt
8. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Mysterious Handprints
Or, Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Stolen Hardy Boys Titles.
9. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Carnival Crime
Unaccompanied minors going up against carnies? We’re in.
10. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret Pitch
11. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Soccer Scheme
Just what 8-year-old book nerds wanted to read more about: sports!
12. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Jumping Frogs
13. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Slippery Salamander
14. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Sleeping Dog
At Sally’s behest, Encyclopedia Brown winds his way through the pet store, dutifully explaining why every adorable animal is faking it.
15. Encyclopedia Brown Gets His Man
16. Encyclopedia Brown Tracks Them Down
17. Encyclopedia Brown Solves Them All
18. Encyclopedia Brown Cracks the Case
19. Encyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues
When the Encyclopedia Brown series started, many of the titles sounded like catchphrases that a triumphant Encyclopedia might say while pumping his fist victoriously. Of these, we’ve picked the most potentially homoerotic as our favorite, because that’s a great criteria to use when evaluating a book series about a preteen detective.
20. Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Cake
21. Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Case
Not at all confusing. (Cake wins, though, because obviously.)
22. Encyclopedia Brown, Super Sleuth
23. Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective
Put that on a business card, kid.
24. Encyclopedia Brown Saves the Day
25. Encyclopedia Brown Shows the Way
You now have half the chorus for an Encyclopedia Brown theme song.
26. Encyclopedia Brown Lends a Hand
27. Encyclopedia Brown Sets the Pace
28. Encyclopedia Brown Carries On
29. Encyclopedia Brown Keeps the Peace
Encyclopedia Brown, doing the bare minimum.