Quite often, we are asked for mystery books by children who have only been reading for a few years. There are a number of mystery series written for children of that age (the A to Z Mysteries, Nate the Great, Cam Jansen), but children who like mysteries REALLY like mysteries, and by the time they have to ask an adult for a book recommendation, they’ve already burned through all the well-known series.
We’re always excited to see the first book in a new series, and luckily for us, Alexander McCall Smith has produced a spin-off of his adult series, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, called The Great Cake Mystery. This first book in what will hopefully be many tells a story of nine-year-old Precious Ramotswe (future proprietor of the aforementioned agency) and the very first mystery she ever solved–one that involves all of her classmates at her country school in Botswana.
While the mystery is not trivial, the story is a gentle one, and unlikely upset young or sensitive children. The book isn’t meant for the very first emerging readers, but for those who are already reading easy chapter books, such as the Magic Tree House series. The great strength of the book lies in the African setting, which is beautifully described, and the description is augmented by phenomenal illustrations by Iain McIntosh. The wood cut-like depictions combine with McCall Smith’s words to create a Botswana so different, and yet so comfortable, that they will entice any child to want to visit.
Posted by: Sarah