Young Precious Ramotswe hones her detective skills with some new friends.
Pontsho and Teb are new in school, and Precious hopes to be their friend. By asking just a few careful questions, Precious finds out a lot. She learns that the children are poor and that their father had been killed by lightning. Precious is sensitive and empathetic, and soon the three—and the siblings’ pet meerkat, Kosi—are fast friends. Kosi is endlessly fascinating and very talented, Precious learns. It takes her keen observational skills and the natural talents of the meerkat to save Pontsho and Teb’s family from disaster. Fast-paced action is interspersed with family stories, making this an especially winning story for very young readers. Occasional direct address to readers harkens back to an earlier storytelling style. Stunning black-and-white illustrations, reminiscent of woodcuts and etchings, grace most spreads, adding an old-fashioned feel to the story. The map of Africa (with Botswana highlighted) on the first page provides welcome information. Precious is sensitive and grounded, open and understanding—perfect qualities for the detective she is destined to be. The mystery is easily solved, but it still requires that readers pay attention to the clues left along the way.
Subtly dealing with social issues of poverty, Precious’ second outing as a youngster charms. (Mystery. 8-12)