Back to top

Welcome back, Carmen Sandiego

Cover of Who in the World is Carmen
A review of Who in the World is Carmen Sandiego? by Rebecca Tinker

I loved playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? a computer game created in 1985 by the American software company Broderbund. The game was originally classified as a "mystery exploration" series but became one of the first edutainment programs used in schools. I was introduced to the game as a 5.25-inch floppy disc for the Apple II. It was used in the computer lab when I was a student, to teach kids how to install computer programs and to build typing and mouse skills. I credit most of my knowledge of geography and capital cities of the world to this excellent game. 

Carmen was cool, smart, and a master thief who used her talents for good, all admirable qualities to me back then. The game also required the use of an online reference book to help answer geography questions.  This, too, was perfect for me, future librarian.

Fast forward thirty years and Carmen is experiencing a renaissance thanks to the animated Netflix series starring Gina Rodriguez as Carmen. It is through this that I was able to introduce my child to the wonders of Carmen. She is still as cool and smart as ever and a master thief. I am okay with this, although I do caution my child that master thief is not a suitable career choice.

Something that I've always wondered about and that this new series and book addresses is who Carmen Sandiego is. What's her story? How did she become a master thief? Where did she grow up? Where are her parents? And why does she wear the red trench coat and hat? The book faithfully follows the first two episodes of the animated series and we do gets answers to some of those pertinent questions when Carmen meets up with a former colleague and tells him her origin story, or as much of it as she knows. 

There's still a lot missing and finding out those bits and pieces will keep readers and viewers hooked for more books and seasons of the show. I can't wait to find out more!

February 21, 2019