Title: Where In the World is Carmen Sandiego?Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego
Author: John Peel
Pages: 92
Reading Level: 8-12
Star Rating: ★★

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? is the second book I’ve read in the Carmen Sandiego series. My review of this book is practically the same as my review of Where in Europe is Carmen Sandiego?

Carmen Sandiego and her gang have managed to steal four valuable objects from all over the world – The Torch from the Statue of Liberty, a valuable Stradivarius Violin, an endangered Mountain Gorilla, and the Great Wall of China. (How do you steal the Great Wall of China….?)

It’s your job as a member of the A.C.M.E. Detective Agency to chase down the thief and claim the stolen object. You are provided with suspect cards (which include physical descriptions and other useful information of each suspect) and set off to track down your criminal. This excerpt is an example of how this works.

You’ve arrived safely in Wellington, New Zealand. About a quarter of a million native Maori people live here. The Maoris were originally from the Pacific islands and settled in the islands of New Zealand in the fourteenth century. When the British began colonizing New Zealand in 1840, war broke out between the British and Maoris, and it continued for thirty years. You’re glad those days are long gone.

Your local contact meets you and tells you that he’s found three people who saw the man you’re chasing. He also mentions that there have been three flights out of the country, but he hasn’t had time to check them out yet. You take his information and examine it.

If you want to talk to:
The skier – go to #7
The Maori warrior – go to # 111
The fisherman – go to # 84

If you’re ready to travel:
The United States – go to # 168
To Russia – go to # 23
To Argentina – go to # 142

(The numbers tell you which page to flip to.)

After questioning each witness, you use the clues to identify the thief and to choose which location to travel to next. At the next location you are provided with more clues and more locations until finally you track down the thief.

I would have found Where In the World more engaging if the suspect cards hadn’t been missing from my used copy. Because they were missing, I was couldn’t connect clues to suspects and thus could only guess randomly at who the criminals really were. I was also unable to calculate my score as a detective.

Other than being entirely simplistic and unrealistic, there was nothing really wrong with Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego? Obviously it’s not really a reading book – you jump around from page to page – and its only real value is the small amount of critical thinking that it involves.

The detective asks whether ballet is like disco, says that China’s history stretches back to 5,000 B.C., and states that “fossils from ancient relatives of the human race” were discovered in the Great Rift Valley.

Conclusion. Overall, Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego? is an okay book. It is not the most profitable way for children to be spending their time, in fact, it has a very exaggerated style. But it’s not evil. Your call.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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