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THE GREAT CAKE MYSTERY by Alexander McCall Smith Kirkus Star


Precious Ramotswe's Very First Case

by Alexander McCall Smith & illustrated by Iain McIntosh

Age Range: 7 - 12

Pub Date: April 3rd, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-307-94944-8
Publisher: Anchor

How did Precious Ramotswe, the detective in the bestselling The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, get her start?

McCall Smith has penned the story of Precious’ very first case, taken on when she was just a schoolgirl. Someone has been stealing bread and sweets from the children’s lunches and one round boy, Poloko, is accused of the crime. Precious has a knack for people, and she trusts Poloko’s story, even when his sticky fingers point to guilt. Filling his story with fully realized secondary characters and a sumptuous Botswanan setting, McCall Smith creates the same warm community in this series that his adult readers appreciate. Readers see Precious’ understanding of human nature and powers of observation. The stunning artwork in this chapter book has the look of woodcuts and old-time three-color separation illustration. It extends the story, immersing readers in the village life of Botswana. When a new character is introduced, McIntosh explores either the actual name or its pronunciation in bold red capital letters. A compelling plot and interesting secondary characters, especially classmates who are quick to make unfounded accusations and their teacher, who provides wisdom just when it is needed, will leave readers wanting more.

One case where an adaptation from an adult book is as much fun to read as the original. (Mystery. 7-12)