Sunday, December 23, 2012

Precious and the mystery of Meerkat Hill by Alexander McCall Smith

The first Alexander McCall Smith book I ever read was Mike's magic seeds.  It is such a favourite with me that I read it every year to the students in my school.  Then along came The No. 1  Lady's detective agency books and television series. Now we have a set of junior novels which feature a young Precious Ramotswe and they are brilliant.

Alexander McCall Smith makes writing look so easy - his words and ideas just flow from the page. In this installment two new children arrive at school and Precious is eager to make friends. "... she remembered what it was like to be new to a school. Everybody seems to know lots of people and you know none. It is not at all easy." Precious talks with Pontsho and Ted in the school playground and because she is a curious girl who wants to be a detective in a short time she discovers quite a lot about the newcomers.

"She asked them whether they liked apples, and Teb shook her head. 'I have never tasted an apple,' she said. 'Are they good?'  Precious tried not to show her surprise. Imagine never having tasted an apple!  She herself loved apples ... then she saw something she had not noticed before. Neither of the children was wearing shoes. It did not take her long to work things out. Teb and Pontsho must be very poor."

This is true. The children are poor in material things but rich in the love of their extended family and wonderful pet Meerkat.  When their pregnant cow goes missing Precious joins the search and by following a trail of hoof prints the cow is located and reunited with the family.

In Precious and the mystery of Meerkat Hill there are a number of sub stories and many chapters end with gentle words of wisdom.

"Meerkats like attention.  They like people to pat them on the head and say nice things. Rather like the rest of us don't you think?"

If you like mystery stories and want to read books set in exotic locations look for this series.  We have the first book in our school library Precious and the Monkeys.

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