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Great Illustrated Books

The Great Cake Mystery

By Alexander McCall Smith; illustrated by Iain McIntosh

Anchor, 2012
Pages : 96
Suggested Ages: 7-10
ISBN: 9780307949448

There's no mystery about why mysteries are reliably popular. The best of them are so exciting that pages practically turn by themselves.

Precious Ramotswe is the protagonist of Alexander McCall Smith's best-selling adult series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. The Great Cake Mystery is the story of her start as a detective. Precious is one of the nicest girls in all of Botswana and enjoys helping people with their problems. She also has the gift of knowing when people are not telling the truth. These are qualities that she'll need as she sets out on her first case.

Precious is a student at a school where everyone is happy – even the school cat – until special treats start disappearing. Someone at school is a thief. When her classmates accuse another student without sufficient proof, Precious befriends the accused boy. Together they look for clues and discover the real thieves: monkeys that live in the trees around the school. Now Precious wants to prove to her classmates that the boy they accused is innocent. Her ingenious invention, a cake filled with glue, traps the rascal monkeys. When the children see the monkeys stuck to the cake, the lesson is clear.

All mysteries challenge young minds to recognize clues and link them together to solve the case, but Smith ices this particular cake with other things to get young readers thinking: questions about ethics, about assumptions, and about friendship and loyalty. He stirs in lots of information about life and culture in Botswana. Altogether, it's a recipe that won't fail to please first kiddos transitioning to their first real novels..

Reviewed by : FH

Themes : MYSTERY AND DETECTIVE STORIES. PERSEVERANCE. SCHOOL AND SCHOOL STORIES.

If you love this book, then try:

Atinuke. Anna Histrongiscus. Kane/Miller strongook Pustronglishers, 2010.


Cronin, Doreen. The Troustrongle with Chickens: A J.J. Tully Mystery. strongalzar + strongray, 2011.


McDonald, Megan. Judy Moody Goes to College. Candlewick, 2008.

Critics have said

A detective is born! What a delightful, breezy read!
Mary Pope Osborne
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