The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe's Very First Case
Five words on the cover of a new children's book caught my attention, and I knew I had to read it. One was Mystery (I really like mysteries), one was Cake (I adore cake!), and the other three were Alexander McCall Smith - a favorite author of mine! McCall Smith explains in an afterword that he felt compelled to explore the childhood of Precious Ramotswe, the heroine of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency mystery series for adults. He found that many adult readers were sharing that series between generations, and thought it would be nice for children under age 10 to have books about Precious they could perhaps read themselves. In The Great Cake Mystery (and oddly enough, we have the same book under the U.K. title - Precious and the Monkeys), the young Precious realizes that an overweight classmate is being unfairly blamed for stealing pastries. She helps the others at her school identify the true culprits, while also imparting a gentle lesson about not judging people by their appearance. The text is interspersed with lovely illustrations in shades of red, black, and gray, by Iain McIntosh. Extras include information about the characters and about the geography of Botswana, a reader's guide with discussion questions, and even a recipe for Precious's Sponge Cake Worth Stealing. Recommended for grades 1-3.