The Washington Post

The No. 1 Girls’ Detective Agency

Precious Ramotswe solves her very first case as a child in “The Great Cake Mystery,” a children’s novel by Alexander McCall Smith.

The Great Cake Mystery” by Alexander McCall Smith.

Ages 7 and up. $6.99

Lots and lots of adult readers know Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. We could call this book the No. 1 Girls’ Detective Agency. Smith’s mystery-solving main character for adults, Precious Ramotswe, is still a girl in this book. The story takes place in the African country of Botswana (pronounced Baht-SWAN-nuh), and young Precious must solve her very first case.

There’s a thief in her school, a thief who is stealing cakes and other desserts from other children’s school lunches. Many of the kids in Precious’s class have a suspect: a boy who has a sweet tooth and sugar-covered fingers. But Precious does a good job of not jumping to conclusions. She knows, even as a young detective, that she must have proof before she can accuse someone. So she comes up with a clever concoction to catch the thief.

In addition to being a sweet detective story, this book will introduce readers to a part of the world they might know little about. The woodcut illustrations by Iain McIntosh add to the sense of the exotic.

— Tracy Grant

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