The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case: A Precious Ramotswe Mystery for Young Readers
by Alexander McCall Smith, published 2012
“Nice people smile a lot, and Precious Ramotswe was one of the nicest girls in Botswana. Everyone said so.”
Oh joy! My favorite adult author, Alexander McCall Smith, has recreated his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency as a series for young children. Now that is something to sing about! The first children’s book in the series is a prequel introducing Precious to the readers, in her childhood days, where her instincts to be a detective are already developing.
All the delightful elements of the adult books appear in this children’s book. The magical countryside of Botswana, the great moral lessons which are so sincerely presented, the overall goodness of the characters. In addition, the sly humor that appears in the writing, in the way the author addresses the reader, and in the experiences of the children, all make for a wondrous reading experience. In addition, the art work, at least in the hard-back book, is exceptional: color woodblock prints.
I’ve always felt the adult books were a bit like eating chocolate – they just taste delicious, and you finish wanting more. It feels the same with this children’s book. The mystery is presented, false clues are followed, the mystery is solved, and you are ready to spend more time with the characters. This children’s book is easy to read, perfect as a First Chapter Book, for age 6 to about age 9.
The other books in the series are almost the same. The mystery is not very complex at all. The interest lies in meeting the characters and learning something about accepting everyone for who they are.