Title: Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego
Author: John Peel
Pages: 96
Reading Level: 8-11
Star Rating: ★★★

Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? is the third book I’ve read in the Carmen Sandiego series. Unlike the others I have purchased, this one still had the suspect and information cards, so I was able to keep track of my score. Turns out I’m so good, I’m suspected of working with Carmen’s gang! : )

Carmen Sandiego and her cronies have managed to steal four valuable objects from different parts of the world – and time. These objects are the Leaning Tower of Pisa (kudos to whoever managed to cart that off without getting caught!), the Last Dodo Bird, the Liberty Bell, and the Crown Jewels.

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 about each suspect) and set off to track down your criminal. This excerpt is an example of how this works.

This is England in the year 1595, and the country is doing very well. The defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 made other countries steer clear of trouble with England. Queen Elizabeth is nearing the end of her long and popular reign, and writers like Shakespeare and Edmund Spenser are creating classic works.

Your chronoskimmer’s computer tells you it’s finished checking the energy trails left by the crook. The thief spoke to three people and then moved on to one of three possible places and times.

If you want to meet:
William Shakespeare – go to 88
Sir Francis Drake – go to 132
Queen Elizabeth – go to 19

If you’re ready to travel to:
Russia in the year 1892 – go to 31
America in the year 1927 – go to 112
England in the year 1601 – go to 156

 (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.

Having all of the cards intact made this book a LOT more fun. Also, by using the time-traveling device, John Peel introduced us to a lot of historical characters and time periods. The book reinforced the lifespan of different historical figures and acquainted us with their work.

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.

One page describes the falling rain as “like the beat in a bad rap song.” [pg. 6]

In one scenario, we visit Charles Darwin. No pro-evolutionary statements are made.

In another scenario, we go to an Elvis Presley concert to try to find a suspect.

Lincoln is called one of the greatest presidents in American history.

We meet Spinoza and are briefly told that he was “a famous and influential philosopher best known for his belief that God is part of everything that exists.” [pg. 66]

One of the suspects, Nosmo King, is described as a flirt.

In one scene (this tickled me to NO END), we visit Sir Arthur Sullivan who is described as being famous for his comic opera, The Pirates of Penzance! :)

Conclusion. Overall, Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego? was a pretty good book. It is not the most profitable way for children to be spending their time, but it’s intriguing.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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