07/17/2012 09:40 am ET Updated Sep 16, 2012

SLIDESHOW: 14 Fearless Characters In YA Novels

I haven't thought about Encyclopedia Brown for years, but when I read that the author of those wonderful books -- Donald J. Sobol -- passed away last week, I had an instant flash of my young self sitting at my parents' kitchen table, reading an Encyclopedia Brown book while eating a bowl of Grape-Nuts. (I had strange cereal preferences for a kid.)

Yes, I loved junior sleuth "Encyclopedia" (aka Leroy) Brown. He was so smart, so curious, and seemed to be so free of self-doubt. But to me, his sidekick, Sally Kimball, was much more badass. Of course, no one used the word "badass" to describe a girl back then. So let's use the word "fearless."

A girl bodyguard? Who'd ever heard of such a thing, then or now? Sally was pretty and tough. And she was smart, too. As one reviewer so sagely points out, "In some cases it is Sally and not Encyclopedia who figures [the mystery] out because in her words, 'You are a boy.'"

In honor of Donald J. Sobol and his wonderful literary creations, here's a slideshow featuring Sally and some of my other favorite fearless characters from young-adult novels. Did I leave someone fictional you love off the list? Let me know why they're fearless, and I may add them to the slideshow!

What personal lessons have you learned about fear and fearlessness? Comment below, or tweet us all about it @HealthyLiving using the hashtag #becomingfearless. If you tweet, you will automatically be entered into Toyota Corolla's Most Fearless Tweet Contest! (Click here for the Official Rules.)

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