The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe's Very First Case: A Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Book for Young Readers

The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe's Very First Case: A Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Book for Young Readers

3.8 7
by Alexander McCall Smith
     
 

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THE NO. 1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY - Young Readers

Fans around the world adore the bestselling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, the basis of the HBO TV show, and its proprietor Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective.  In this charming series, Mma  Ramotswe navigates her cases and her personal life withSee more details below

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Overview

THE NO. 1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY - Young Readers

Fans around the world adore the bestselling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, the basis of the HBO TV show, and its proprietor Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective.  In this charming series, Mma  Ramotswe navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, and good humor—not to mention help from her loyal assistant, Grace Makutsi, and the occasional cup of tea.
 
Have you ever said to yourself, Wouldn’t it be nice to be a detective?
 
This is the story of an African girl who says just that. Her name is Precious.
 
When a piece of cake goes missing from her classroom, a traditionally built young boy is tagged as the culprit. Precious, however, is not convinced. She sets out to find the real thief. Along the way she learns that your first guess isn’t always right. She also learns how to be a detective.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This lovely, warmhearted novel reveals how Precious Ramotswe, the star of Smith’s the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series for adults, launched her sleuthing career. Curious and observant, Precious, “one of the nicest girls in Botswana,” is a natural detective. She finds her first case at school, when a piece of cake, a slice of jam-slathered bread, and some iced buns disappear. Smith laces his narrative with drily contemplative musings (“You can lose a plain piece of bread and not think twice about it, but when you lose one spread thickly with strawberry jam it’s an altogether more serious matter”) as well as direct addresses to readers that tap into childhood dreams of being a detective. When classmates accuse a “rather round” student of the thefts and he denies it, Precious believes him and hunts for the real culprit. Throughout, Smith shares wise insights on human nature through his compassionate and fair-minded protagonist. Bold and striking, McIntosh’s chunky, two-color woodcutlike pictures present evocative images of the African setting. This is a story, and a heroine, with impressive dimension. Ages 7–10. Agent: Robin Straus, Robin Straus Agency. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

“A detective is born! What a delightful, breezy read!"
     —Mary Pope Osborne, bestselling author of The Magic Tree House series

“Told with an innocence that will captivate young readers, The Great Cake Mystery is a kind-hearted, feel-good story for all. Loved it!”
     —Graham Salisbury, author of Under the Blood-Red Sun and the Calvin Coconut series
 
“Kids will love this kind and clever new detective. They’ll love the mystery, and they might even love the thieves. I look forward to more!”
     —Patricia Reilly Giff, award-winning author of Wild Girl and other books

“Good for kids who like mysteries and stories about other cultures and friendship all packed into one.” —TIME for Kids magazine

“Stunning artwork. . . . 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.”
     —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
 
“This mini mystery and its jaw-dropping illustrations will please proto-detectives, both large and small. . . . What [McCall Smith]’s done with The Great Cake Mystery is unique. . . . His fans will pluck it up like so many of his other books. . . . A really fun read.”
     —School Library Journal

"Bold and striking, McIntosh’s chunky, two-color woodcutlike pictures present evocative images of the African setting. This is a story, and a heroine, with impressive dimension." 
      - Publishers Weekly, starred review

From the Trade Paperback edition.

School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Young readers are introduced to Precious Ramotswe, a young sleuth in Botswana, in this prequel to the adult series "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" (Pantheon). Trouble occurs when tasty treats disappear in her school. When word gets out, Precious is on the case. Observant readers will find the biggest clue to solving the mystery on the front cover. Primitive in nature and using only red, brown, and black on cream paper, the illustrations are minimal and the characters appear to be adults rather than children. The story is predictable and unlikely to have beginning chapter book readers awaiting Precious's next case.—Janene Corbin, Rosebank Elementary School, Nashville, TN
Kirkus Reviews
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)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307743893
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/03/2012
Series:
Precious Ramotswe Series, #1
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
142,788
Product dimensions:
5.26(w) x 7.48(h) x 0.34(d)
Lexile:
720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Have you ever said to yourself, Wouldn't it be nice to be a detective? Most of us will never have the chance to make that dream come true. Detectives, you see, are born that way. Right from the beginning they just know that this is what they want to be. And right from the beginning they show that solving mysteries is something they can do rather well.

This is the story about a girl who becomes a detective. Her name is Precious.

Precious smiled a lot. She often smiled even when she was not thinking about anything in particular. Nice people smile a lot, and Precious Ramotswe was one of the nicest girls in Botswana. Everyone said so.

Botswana was the country she lived in. It was down toward the bottom of Africa. She lived in a wide dry land, which had a lot of amazing things to see.

There was the Kalahari Desert, a great stretch of dry grass and thorn trees that went on and on into the distance, farther than any eye can see. Then there was the great river in the north, which flowed the wrong way. It did not flow into the ocean, as rivers usually do, but back into the heart of Africa. When it reached the sands of the Kalahari, it drained away, just like water disappears down the drain of a bath.

But most interesting, of course, were the wild animals. There were many of these in Botswana: lions, elephants, leopards, monkeys—the list goes on. Precious had not seen all of these animals, but she had heard about most of them. Her father, a kind man whose name was Obed, often spoke about them, and she loved the tales he told.

"Tell me about the time you were nearly eaten by a lion," she would ask. And Obed, who had told her that story perhaps a hundred times before, would tell her again. And it was every bit as exciting each time he told it.

"I was a young man then," he began.

"How young?" asked Precious.

"About eighteen, I think," he said. "I went up north to see my uncle, who lived way out in the country, or the bush as we call it in Africa, very far from everywhere."

"Did anybody else live there?" asked Precious. She was always asking questions, which was a sign that she might become a good detective. Do you like to ask questions? Many people who ask lots of questions become detectives, because that is what detectives do. They ask a lot of questions.

"It was a very small village," Obed said. "It was just a few huts, really, and a fenced place where they kept the cattle. They had this fence, you see, which protected the cattle from the lions at night."

This fence had to be quite strong. A few strands of wire cannot keep lions out. That is hopeless when it comes to lions—they would just knock down such a fence with a single blow of their paw. A proper lion fence has to be made of strong poles, from the trunks of trees.

"So there I was," Obed said. "I had gone to spend a few days with my uncle and his family. They were good to me and I liked my cousins. There were six of them—four boys and two girls. We had many adventures together.

"I slept in one of the huts with three of the boys. We did not have beds in those days—we had sleeping mats made out of reeds, which we laid out on the floor of the hut. They were nice to sleep on. They were much cooler than a bed and blankets in the hot weather, and easier to store too."

Precious was quiet now. This was the part of the story that she liked the best.

"And then," her father said, "and then one night I woke up to a strange sound. It was like the sound a large pig will make when it's sniffing about for food, only a little bit quieter."

"Did you know what it was?" she asked, holding her breath as she waited for her father to reply. She knew what the answer would be, of course. She had heard the story so many times. But it was always exciting, always enough to keep you sitting on the very edge of your seat.

He shook his head. "No, I didn't. And that was why I thought I should go outside and find out."

Precious closed her eyes tight. She could hardly bear to hear what was coming.

"It was a lion," her father said. "And he was right outside the hut, standing there, looking at me from underneath his great dark mane."

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