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“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
1. Do you agree with the author’s statement that detectives are “born that way”?
2. Why does the author stress that Precious is a “nice” person? What personality traits do you think a nice person should possess?
3. Discuss the significance of Obed’s story about the lion. What does it tell Precious about her father? Why does she like to hear the story over and over?
4. How does Precious know which parts of the lion story are true and which parts are stretching the truth? Why is this important?
5. Why does Tapiwa tell Precious about the cake thief? Why does she assume that the thief is someone in the school?
6. Precious wonders if people who grow up to steal were thieves when they were children or if they became thieves later on. This question is not answered in the book. What do you think?
7. Why does everyone like Sepo? What qualities does he have that make him popular with the other students?
8. Why do Sepo and Tapiwa believe that Poloko is the thief? What evidence do they have? Why are the other children so quick to believe that Poloko is the thief?
9. How does Poloko feel when the others accuse him of stealing the food? How would you feel if you were accused of something that you didn’t do? Why is it so hard for Poloko to defend himself?
10. Why does Precious believe Poloko is innocent? Why does she tell him she will be his friend when everyone else believes the worst about him?
11. How do Precious and Poloko discover the real thieves? If they had not walked home from school together, taking their time, would they have solved the mystery?
12. Solving the mystery is one thing, but the real challenge is proving it to the others. How does Precious convince the other children and the teacher of the truth? How does her dream help her trap the real thieves?
B: POST-READING ACTIVITY
1. Discuss the theme of honesty in this story. What does honesty mean to you? Can you think of other ways that Precious might have proven to the class that Poloko was innocent?
2. Discuss the theme of friendship in this story. Who acted as a true friend? What qualities do you look for in a friend? How can you tell when someone is a true friend?
3. Discuss the theme of stereotypes and what it means to judge people based on preconceived notions rather than evidence. Discuss the need to hear all sides of a story before you accuse a person of wrongdoing.
C: CIRRICULUM QUESTIONS
Draw a map of Africa and highlight the country of Botswana on the map. Locate the countries that are near Botswana on the map. What more do you want to know about Botswana after reading The Great Cake Mystery? http://www.botswanatourism.co.bw/
2. Science/Biology—The Animal Kingdom:
Find information about the indigenous monkeys in Botswana. How does this information help you understand the story better? http://www.wildlife-pictures-online.com/vervet-monkey-information.html
3. Language Arts:
Write a character sketch of your favorite character in the story. What do you think that character does in his or her spare time? What is your character’s family like? Write a story of your own that includes the character you have chosen. Look up information about the author of The Great Cake Mystery: http://www.randomhouse.com/features/mccallsmith/main.php
4. Social Studies:
In the American judicial system, an accused person is “innocent until proven guilty.” Discuss the meaning of this phrase. Research the history of the American Bill of Rights and how it came to be adopted by our Congress: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/nation/jb_nation_bofright_1.html
How do the laws of Botswana compare to the American system?
Posted January 3, 2014
I got this book's sample on my nook but, the samle is not even long enough th read any of the book! I was not happy about this. I then got this book on my iPad. It is a good book. I do agree it is a little short though.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 25, 2012
lovely story and nice cultural touches through out -- well written and great questions in the back to help with discussion after.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 18, 2012
Posted April 26, 2012
As a huge fan of Alexander McCall Smith I had to read this...and it did not disappoint. The story was cute and will be great to read with my daughter when she is old enough and I really LOVED the illustrations throughout the book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 14, 2012
Posted September 30, 2012
No text was provided for this review.