Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Mystery of the Missing Lion: A Precious Ramotswe Mystery for Young Readers #3 by Alexander McCall Smith

One of my favorite adult book characters is Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series written by Alexander McCall Smith.  Detecting was clearly what Mma Ramotswe is meant to be doing and she acknowledges much of her success to her father Obed Ramotswe, who taught her many skills as a child.  Now, young readers can read all about Precious and her early adventures in detecting in a series of chapter books.

The Mystery of the Missing Lion is the third book in the series.  Here, Precious is invited to visit her Aunty Bee who works in the Eagle Island Safari Camp in the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana in Africa.  Precious is very excited and on her first day she makes friends with Khumo, a young boy about her age.

There is also a movie crew in the area, making a film that will be using a trained actor lion named Teddy.  Of course, the kids are interested and soon the director asks if they can hide in the bushes and makes sounds of a guinea fowl to attract Teddy during a shoot.  It is a fun day for Precious and Khumo who are treated like part of the film crew.

And so is the next day, but later that day, Precious hears a commotion and when she goes outside, she learns that Teddy is missing.  The next morning, Precious puts to good use the tracking skills her father had taught her, but there are no lion tracks to be found.

Precious and Khumo decide to borrow Aunty Bee's canoe (with her permission, of course) and set off on the river looking for Teddy.  They finally spot him in a pride of lions at the river's edge.  Hurrying back to camp, a new search party is formed to find Teddy and bring him back.  But is that the right thing to do?  Precious has other ideas about where Teddy belongs, but will she have the courage to say something?

The Mystery of the Missing Lion is a perfect book for young readers ready to tackle a higher level chapter book.  The writing is uncomplicated and where something new is introduced, like the Okavango Delta, Smith gives a clear description/definition for his readers.  There is a map of Africa showing where Botswana is at the beginning of the book, but I would have liked to see a more detailed map of Botswana, since there is a bit of geography to the story.  At the back of the book, there is a page detailing information about Botswana and the geography that is also helpful but would be better with a map.

Of course, in the Reader's Guide at the back of the book, there is pre-reading activities and one is focused on map work and the varied wildlife that is found in Botswana.  People sometimes forget that Africa is such a large continent with many different countries, all with their own customs, traditions and cultures, not to mention landscape and wildlife.  The Mystery of the Missing Lion goes far in helping kids understand what at least one country is like.

There are spot black and white illustrations throughout the story by Iain McIntosh, giving the story a real feeling of being in Botswana.

As an adult, Precious Ramotswe gives her father Obed a lot of credit for many of the things she knows and one of those is a strong sense of right and wrong.  This comes through so clearly in this book about young Precious, making it a wonderfully gentle story for young readers.  But Obed had also imparted a real love for Botswana, its people, animals and land in Precious and that too is already evident in this delightful young girl.  So the same charming qualities that make the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series such a pleasure to read are present in this chapter book.

This book is recommended for readers age 7+
This book is an EARC received from NetGalley


  1. I've still not read any of these - but I must. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Happy New Year Barbara.

  2. Wow, I did not know that these existed and I am a huge MG/chapter book mystery fan. Thanks for bringing it to our attention on the Kid Lit Blog Hop

  3. I did not know about this series either. Great review of it too. Looks like an interesting book that would keep kid's attention.

    Glad to see you participating on Jan 27th.

    Naila Moon from Kid Lit Blog Hop

  4. Wow, what a great series! I didn't know about these books and appreciate you sharing them. Going to have to grab the first book and share it with my grandson. Thank you!


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