The Great Cake Mystery | A Review
The Great Cake Mystery is the perfect introduction for children interested in learning more about Botswana. Precious Ramotswe is a typical eight-year-old girl. She loves listening to her father tell stories of his own childhood. They talk about what she wants to be when she grows up. Since she asks a lot of questions and can sense when people are telling the truth, her father thinks she’d be a great detective.Interested in books set in Botswana for your kids? #kidslit #mkbkids Click To Tweet
As she thinks about this possibility, her first case appears. Kids at her elementary school are stressed. Someone keeps stealing their treats. While accusations are thrown around, Precious senses the accused might be innocent. So she heads up the investigation to find out the truth.
What makes this story a little different is this all takes place within Botswana. As I read the book, I loved how easy it was for kids to relate to the basic plot of the book. It feels like this story can be anywhere. That could be anyone’s father telling a story of his childhood. Only, this isn’t anywhere. His story is about a lion that came to his village. This could be any kid’s elementary school or classmates. But, as we move through the story we realize that this story could only happen in Botswana. Bite size facts about Botswana are weaved into the story. Without immediately realizing it, we’ve learned a lot about the country along the way.
The book’s extra features are awesome. It’s a chapter book, but there are also simple three-color block printed images on most pages. The images are anything from the country’s map and seal to images of the people and animals referenced and pronunciation help for uncommon names or just decorative pieces that help give the feeling of Botswana. The back of the book includes a small dictionary of the people and geography of Botswana. There are tools to help parents talk about Botswana before reading the book, discussion questions about the plot, and activities to consider after reading. There’s also a recipe for the cake made in the story.
While The Great Cake Mystery only touches the surface of what Botswana has to offer, it’s a nice story that will open up the interest in other books about Botswana. These include more books other books in the series, Precious Ramotswe Mysteries for Young Readers. And parents may be interested in knowing that the author, Alexander McCall Smith, wrote these books as a prequel to his popular series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.
- Other versions and editions of the book list the title as Precious and the Puggies or Precious and the Monkeys.
- I enjoyed this review from Africa Access Review. My big takeaway is that although the story is entertaining enough, some of the facts may leave readers with the feeling that monkeys are running around freely in Botswana.
- More reviews at Goodreads.
- Check out my other posts about Botswana.
- ISBN:1846972043 (ISBN13: 9781846972041)
- Language: English
- Series: Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Cases #1
- Setting: Botswana
- Literary Awards: Audie Award for Children’s Titles Ages Up to 8 (2013)
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