Young Precious: The collected adventures by Alexander McCall Smith

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Anyone in the know, that is anyone who has read any of the international bestseller series from the late 1990's The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, on seeing another book written by Alexander McCall Smith, would snatch it up eagerly as I did. What is the expectation? Why warmth and humour of course, more clever little adventures in Africa and more of that wonderful Mma Ramotswe hopefully...

This beautiful hardbacked omnibus edition of Young Precious The Collected Adventures, first published in 2021, contains three stories: Precious and the monkeys, Precious and the mystery of Meercat Hall and Precious and the zebra necklace. Who is Precious? Why Mma Ramotswe when she was a child, the same age as you, asking so many questions and getting tangled up in so many adventures and escapades amongst the people and animals of Botswana. Precious is not only smart, observant and very alert, she is also very kind. She is a champion of the bullied and a rescuer of animals. She solves little problems and each of these books contains a separate problem in need of a solution. 

Iain McIntosh's illustrations accompany the stories perfectly. Only red, black and white are used and the page designs are so varied that in themselves they make reading a pleasure. On turning each page the question might be - where will the illustration be... will it be a wrap around, above or below the text, whole page, tiny etc...  Meercats, Hippopotamuses, lions, cobras, elephants and ostriches abound.

I did not know that Alexander McCall Smith had written books for children but I can now vouch for the fact that children love the stories included in Young Precious The Collected Adventures. There is something very warm and comforting about McCall Smith's narrative style and authorial voice and the lovely messages that shine through. And of course who does not want to hear stories from Africa (particularly Botswana) and who doesn't want to go on a safari one day!

If you have enjoyed Rudyard Kipling's How the elephant got his trunk, here is another delightful read from Africa. Look out also for McCall Smith's acclaimed School Ship Tobermory adventures (for middle years readers.)

Highly recommended.

Themes: Africa, Detective work, Adventure.

Wendy Jeffrey