Title: The Time MachineThe-Time-Machine
Author: Seymour Simon
Pages 74
Reading Level: 8-12
Star Rating: ★★

No, no, no. This isn’t THE Time Machine (H. G. Wells’ famous science fantasy). This is The Time Machine a set of dinky detective stories headed up by the cheesy pun-playing Einstein Anderson

The Story.

The Time Machine consists of ten individual solve-it-yourself mysteries. Instead of focusing on crimes and capturing criminals, Einstein Anderson solves scientific mysteries – how to help his team make a faster car than the other team’s, how to make ketchup flow out of the bottle faster by scientific means, etc.

1)      The Dangerous Comet in which Einstein must check the accuracy of the theory Dr. Edds has proposed in his latest book.

2)      The Disappearing Ice Cream in which ice cream is stolen from a truck and Einstein is one of the only witnesses.

3)      The Lightweight Rocket in which Einstein can tell in a flash that Stanley’s new rocket won’t work. Can you?

4)      The Mysterious Tracks in which enormous tracks have been sighted and Einstein must identify the animal – or hoaxer – who made them.

5)      The Fastest Ketchup in the Cafeteria in which Einstein bets that he can make the ketchup come out of its bottle at a faster rate than it usually does.

6)      The Not-So-Dead Fish in which poachers have been stealing fish from the State Trout Hatchery, and Einstein must discovery who they are.

7)      The Strange Clues in which Margaret Michaels tries to stump Encyclopedia with a series of puzzling clues.

8)      The Time Machine in which Stanley falls for an obvious phony and Einstein must point out the clues that have been sitting under his nose.

9)      The Grizzly Mistake in which a gold miner has tried to inflate his importance by telling a phony account of his life.

10)   The Speedy Soapbox Car in which the sixth graders beg Einstein to construct a faster, stronger soapbox car for the upcoming soapbox car race. (???)

Cautions.

In the very first chapter there are several evolutionary references; the mystery is whether a man who just published a book is making stuff up, or is really knowledgeable in his field. His theory is supposed to explain how the dinosaurs died out, but Einstein disproves it based on evolutionary assumptions. This is the only reference to evolution.

My only other comment will be in regards to Einstein’s jokes. They’re terribly cheesy – even his friends in the book tell him so. I’ll include a few so that you can have a forewarning of the kind of jokes your children might start telling if they read this book…

Einstein is able to detect a girl’s untruth by something she said about eyes.

“I knew I should have made the story simpler and left out that part about the eyes,” Margaret said. “Then I might have fooled you.”

“That’s true,” Einstein agreed as they headed for the bus. “The eyes were a bad eye, dear.”

“So is that joke,” groaned Margaret. [pg. 30]

Amen, Margaret…..

“Wait till the National Aeronautics and Space Administration finds out what I’ve invented,” Stanley said. They’ll be green with envy.”

“If your invention is so great, you should have disconnected your doorbell,” Einstein said.

“Why?” asked Stanley in a puzzled way.

“Because then you might win the No-bel prize,” Einstein said.

“Ohh,” Stanley groaned. “Why do you tell me those awful jokes?” [pg. 20]

My thoughts precisely, Stanley…

 “Doesn’t Mr. Jackson also keep ducks?” Einstein asked.

“He has a few,” Dr. Anderson said. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, if Mr. Jackson crosses one of his cows with one of his ducks, he’ll have milk and quackers.”

“Adam,” said Dr. Anderson, “that’s a terrible joke. Next you’ll be telling me that the reason cows wear bells is because their horns don’t work.”

Einstein started to laugh. “No,” he said. “I was going to ask you what they call cows that live in the Arctic.”

“What?” Dr. Anderson asked cautiously.

“Eskimoos,” said Einstein.

“I give up,” said Dr. Anderson. “Please, no more puns.” [pg. 39]

You have my full support, Doctor Anderson!

In this last one, Pat and Sally are discussing the actions of a bully named Pat. I actually like this one the teeniest bit because it’s got a British twist.

“It’s lucky Pat didn’t get honey instead of ketchup in his hair.” Sally laughed. “The bees would never leave him alone.”

“Right,” said Einstein. “And as the English say, he’d have to learn to beehive.” [pg. 37]

Conclusion. Not bad. I personally prefer Encyclopedia Brown to Einstein Anderson, but both are just fluff anyway, so why be picky….

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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