Raise your hand if you participated in the Summer Reading Program at your local library this year! We did, and at the end of our program each of our Pioneer Children got to choose a free book as a reward for all their reading hours. We tabbed through the items offered by our reading program and I was so excited to find a children’s book by an author I’ve enjoyed.
Alexander McCall Smith writes The Ladies’ No. 1 Detective Agency series, which (despite the ungrammarly title) I have enjoyed. We love stories that help us discover new places, so a few months ago we read a couple of the author’s Akimbo stories, which are set in Botswana as well. But, for all our reading, I didn’t know Smith had written these books about a young Precious Ramotswe, the protagonist of the Detective Agency books.
In “The Great Cake Mystery,” Precious is a schoolgirl of about 10 years old. As she and the other children spend their days doing lessons in their classes, the treats that they bring from home to make the boring school lunches more bearable begin to disappear. Friends come to Precious with stories of a thief at school, and Precious employs her detective spirit to investigate the situation and solve the mystery, all while making a new friend. The story opens with a startling lion encounter and ends with a lesson on honesty, loyalty, and friendship.
The end of the book includes a note from the author on what he hopes children will take away from the book, as well as some pronunciation guides, a short glossary of African terms, and some thoughtful reading questions. Ms. Pickle hosted a summer reading club last summer, and I think this book would have been perfect for that sort of setting. It makes me want to bring reading club back!
Precious is a beautiful character filled with kindness and generosity. She is a lovely person to spend the last few minutes before bedtime with, and we enjoy our time with her so much that we have already picked up books two and three in this series.