In 2012 Alexander McCall Smith debuted a new series that introduced readers to the young Precious Ramotswe, star of McCall Smith's adult mystery series, No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, and first female private investigator in Botswana. The Great Cake Mystery : Precious Ramotswe's Very First Case, illustrated magnificetly by Iain McIntosh, is thrilling, mostly because this setting and type of character are severely underrepresented in chapters books, but also because writing genuinely engaging, well plotted, plausible mysteries for young readers of any ability is a rare feat that McCall Smith accomplishes in a thoughtful, interesting way in these chapter books. With The Mystery of Meerkat Hill : A Precious Ramotswe Mystery for Young Readers, we get to see Precious continue to hone her investigative skills as she asks questions and looks for clues when her new friends' cow goes missing.
As with The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe's Very First Case, The Mystery of Meerkat Hill : A Precious Ramotswe Mystery for Young Readers begins with a story from Obed, Precious' father, a master teller of bedtime stories. Precious's school also plays an important part in this story as it did in Book 1, this time introducing her to new friends, brother and sister, Pontsho and Teb. Pontsho is also the owner of a pet meerkat, Kosi, who once bravely lured a cobra off the feet of Pontsho's sleeping grandfather, saving his life! It is Kosi who is the star of this story, with Precious fascinated by everything about him. Because of her keen observation of Kosi, at Ponstho and Teb's home and when the meerkat is brought to school, Precious is able to use some quick thinking to convince two skeptical cattle herders that a pregnant cow amongst their many is really Teb and Pontsho's cow. The Mystery of Meerkat Hill : A Precious Ramotswe Mystery for Young Readers ends with a celebration around a campfire, delicious fat cakes and a story from Pontsho and Teb's grandfather as the three children and Kosi drift off to sleep, Kosi curled up next to Precious.
The Mystery of Meerkat Hill : A Precious Ramotswe Mystery for Young Readers also includes a glossary of the Geography and People of Botswana, a Reader's Guide with Common Core curriculum connections and, best of all, the recipe for fat cakes!
Source: Review Copy