Title: Precious and the Mystery of the Missing Lion
Author: Alexander McCall Smith
Illustrator: Iain McIntosh
Publisher: Anchor Books
Summary: Precious Ramotswe is a nine year old girl living in Botswana. She has the chance to visit one of her favorite aunts during a school holiday. She must travel in the back of a truck for a whole day until they reach Okavango Delta where her aunt lives. While she is there, a film crew comes to make a movie with a trained lion named Teddy. Precious is naturally afraid of lions, but learns that this lion acts more like a kitten than a lion when the lion tamer asks Precious and her new friend, Khumo to hide in the grass and make the sound of a guinea fowl to get Teddy’s attention. The next day, they find that Teddy is missing. Precious and Khumo go down the river in search of him. When they spot him with a pride of lions, they return and tell the camera crew where he is. Before the crew could capture Teddy, Precious convinces them to leave him with his new family. They all agree that Teddy looks happy and will learn how to be more of a lion and less of a kitten if he is left in the wild.
Literary Merit: This story has the flavor of a folktale and the adventure and mystery of a detective story.The heroine in the story is not a frilly, girly, character. She is smart and independent and honest. She brings all the character traits of a kid-dective to life in the African jungle.
Kid Appeal: Both boys and girls will be attracted to a strong female detective in a a wild adventure mystery.
Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Early Chapter Book category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.