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The Great Cake Mystery (Precious Ramotswe's Very First Cases #1)
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The Great Cake Mystery (Precious Ramotswe's Very First Cases #1)

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,583 Ratings  ·  366 Reviews

Fans around the world adore the bestselling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, the basis of the HBO TV show, and its proprietor Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective. In this charming series, Mma Ramotswe navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, and good humor—not to mention help from her lo
Paperback, 96 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Anchor (first published July 23rd 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan Rice
It's OK to be nice.
It's OK to smile
It's OK to ask questions; you may become a detective!
It's OK to be able to tell when adults aren't speaking literally.

Don't steal.
Honesty is good.
Thieves undermine trust.

Take care re misjudging others.
Avoid false accusations.
Connections do not equal proof.

Sometimes life calls for standing up to bigger people or to your friends.
Sometimes life calls for standing up for your friends.

Mysteries can be fun.

Parents can be nice.
Parents can be storytellers.
Growing up e
Rebecca Reid
The Great Cake Mystery introduces young readers to the lovely setting of Botswana and a precocious young girl named Precious who likes to figure things out. Although she thinks it may be many years before she’ll have a mystery to solve, it turns out that someone in her school is eating people’s snacks and she may just be able to figure out who has done it. With her father’s encouragement and her own careful logic, a detective is born in Botswana.

The book is a quick and easy read. McCall Smith sp
Feb 04, 2016 Kavita rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children, africa
A look at Precious Ramotswe, long before she became the famous detective we all know and love. As a seven year old girl, Precious has already started showing signs of the inquisitiveness and curiosity that helps her later in solving cases. She also loves to cook and eat, even at this age. She goes to the local school, where everyone is very nice. And then food starts disappearing and a fat boy gets accused of theft. It is up to Precious to find out the real culprit and prove it to everyone.

It ju
Jul 29, 2011 Bev rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would happily read Alexander McCall Smith's laundry list, for the delight it would doubtless be...but this is another sweet, funny little story that made me smile as usual. It is a prequel to the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, about Precious Ramotswe as a little girl. It was published first in translation to Scots, to encourage Scottish children (and others) to read in that tongue. What a man, supporting worthwhile things with his talent.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
This is the first of the children's spinoff books about Precious Ramotswe, and it's a great deal better than the one I read first (Precious and the Mystery of the Missing Lion). Part of its charm are the illustrations.

While the resolution of the mystery is pretty silly, it's well within the traditions of children's wish-fulfillment stories, rather like Danny the Champion of the World. Precious acts much more like a normal kid in this story, and manages to champion the underdog without coming of
This book is a young reader mystery, telling the story of Precious Ramotswe's first case. Precious is the star of the adult books, The No. 1 Ladie's Detective Agency.

There are so many reasons I think this book is very cool: 1) the illustrations are phenomenal; 2) it is a mystery for young readers; 3) the main character is a smart girl; 4) it is set in Botswana.

I have two significant complaints about the book. First, it seemed clear to me that it was written by a Westerner. I did not believe that
Jul 18, 2012 Betty-Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, je-fiction
What a delightful story! Precious lives in Botswana and her father suggested that she should be a detective some day. And she thought, “Why not?” and soon her very first case landed in her lap. At school, someone has been stealing the desserts that the children have brought to eat after lunch. The children think it must be Poloko because he is a rather round boy who loves to eat sweets. However, Precious wants proof before she accuses anyone so she hatches a plan.
This easy chapter book is perfec
Barb Middleton
May 05, 2012 Barb Middleton rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I'm confused. This looks like an early chapter reader for grades 2-3. It reads like an early chapter reader. But the reading level is 5.6 which means the vocabulary is at a 5th grade level. Huh? Typo? I'd be curious what others think about that... Maybe I can get a grade 3 teacher to read it and give his or her opinion. Hmmm.

Meet Precious. And no, it's not Gollum, the horrible hobbit from Tolkien's, Lord of the Rings. But it is Precious from an adult mystery series,The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Ag
Jan 02, 2013 Tamarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jf, ra-new
JF McC grades 2-4
Adult fans of Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series will be queuing up to give this prequel of sorts to the children they know. This series starter introduces the author’s heroine, Precious Ramotswe, as a young girl solving her first case. Someone has been stealing treats from her friends at school, and suspicion swirls around a chubby boy named Poloko. Encouraged by her father, who has noted Precious’ powers of deduction, the sleuth decides to follow her instincts and p
Jan 16, 2012 Hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading the whole series of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency I was intrigued to read the start and children’s version of Precious Ramotswe. This book is beautifully written and follows a simple but effective storyline. It is set in Botswana and explores Precious’ life at the age of 7, living with her father, listening to stories and wanting to help people. Already with a dream set in mind to become a detective, Precious sets out on her first case for her classmates to discover where many ...more
Jan 22, 2012 Betsy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There was once a time, best beloved, when the early chapter book section of your local lending library was a veritable wasteland of white characters. Oh, every once in a while you might be able to get your hands on Stories Julian Tells or My Name is Maria Isabel but by and large they were it, man. Then, in the last ten years or so, something changed. Suddenly there was an influx of great books starring kids of a diverse range of backgrounds and races. Different nationalities would sort of come u ...more
Lis Carey
Sep 23, 2012 Lis Carey rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, children, fiction
This is exactly what the title says: an absolutely charming story of Precious Ramotswe's first case, her first impulse to be a detective and solve a problem someone brings to her.

Precious is just a school girl, and this very first case concerns who is stealing the special treats the children bring to school, to eat in the school yard after the plain, nutritious lunch provided by the school. These treats are important to the children, and when they start disappearing, they are eager to identify a
H.L. Burke
Jun 08, 2016 H.L. Burke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love the voice of this story. It's very much why I read the older version of this series, and while simplified, it carries over well into the young version too. The morals are a little bit "plainly stated" but I don't think that's awful considering the simplistic voice ... I think too much complexity would ruin it. Good for younger readers and could show them a glimpse of how life elsewhere is the same in someways and different in others.
Una Tiers
Mar 09, 2014 Una Tiers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fun, pleasant read about respecting one another from the child's point of view.
Ruth Ann
Oct 16, 2014 Ruth Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenile, mystery
I highly recommend this 73 page chapter book for elementary students. It is a prequel to The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, an adult mystery series. Like the original books, this book is set in Botswana and the main character is Precious Ramotswe. The mystery is simple but appropriate for young readers. Yummy treats are disappearing from the school. Precious uses her powers of observation, thoughtfulness, and ingenuity to solve the problem.

I think it would be fun to read this series of books as a
Clare Cannon
May 06, 2012 Clare Cannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 08-12yrs
A gentle mystery that's a much simpler version of McCall Smith's Ladies Detective Agency books. It shows the same gentle, sturdy goodness in its protagonist (the younger Precious) who stands up for the weak and defends them against injustice. It's not an action packed or thrilling read, and would probably appeal most to avid young readers who have the sensitivity to value quiet depth above noisy thrills.
Elissa Schaeffer
Sometimes a person's life calling becomes apparent early in their life. So is the case with Precious Ramotswe, already well-known in her adult life as the heroine of the The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. This, however, is the story of her youth in Botswana as she discovers and hones her detective skills. As the titles tells us, her very first case is the mysterious theft of a cake at her school. At first a boy named Poloko is blamed but Precious believes him to be innocent and is determined to ...more
Feb 27, 2014 Jlnpeacock rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My grandson read this when he was in the third grade. We enjoyed the book together as it had enough charm to captivate the adult, but not overwhelm a younger reader. It was an excellent exposure to another culture where children were allowed to be a part of a mystery solved by someone their own age, but in almost another world. How exciting it was to read of walking to school and looking out for leopards that might drop from the trees or snakes lurking about unseen. The little girl in the story, ...more
Feb 20, 2014 Digne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children, for-mom
This a charming kids story is a prequel to The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. McCall Smith did a great job taking a series written for adults and making it work for kids. It works for kids without losing what makes the adult stories so wonderful.

The one flaw here is that I was hoping to get a little more of a ... I guess you'd call it, an emotional payoff. The story ends sweetly and without getting preachy, but I'd have liked to see the themes get tied together in a more sophisticated fashion.
Teresa Osgood
Dec 02, 2014 Teresa Osgood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having enjoyed The Mystery of Meerkat Hill, my eight-year-old brought home a couple more of Precious Ramotswe's first cases. The day they were due, I took a look and found they were the same story--only one copy was written in Scots. I had to renew it.

This is a fun little tale, with the educational challenge of figuring out the dialect (the glossary in the back is helpful). Instead of the occasional Setswana vocabulary found in Mma Ramotswe's adult adventures, I learned words like "muckle" and
Cute. I want to say that the backstory for Precious is a little too on-the-nose, but on the other hand it is a children's book.

audiobook note: Adjoa Andoh does an absolutely lovely job with the cadence and spirit of the characters' language. A delight.
Apr 01, 2016 Lady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobookish
Definitely a 4-star audiobook. The narrator's accent sounds authentic and each character's voice is so endearingly distinct. The book is a charming childhood origin story for our beloved Precious Ramotswe, who grows up to found the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Love how McCall-Smith directly addresses his readers in the second person at times to help them visualize and understand what Precious' and her schoolmates' environment and lives are like in Botswana. He also charmingly interjects pronu ...more
Since school's out, Tony and I get to commute together again. This is our first audiobook of the summer.

We both enjoyed this one. I liked it for the audiobook reader who does a lovely job and for the unique setting - Botswana! Smith manages to give a real sense of place while still keeping it simple for children. The mystery is straightforward, but the setting and the sweet character of Precious Ramotswe make this basic story stand-out.

When I asked Tony what he liked, he said he liked the monkey
Really cute, but the title sort of gives the whole game away! 3.5 stars.
Feb 06, 2014 Sri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children, serial, fiction
Baru tahu ternyata ada seri Precious kecil ini :P. Seri ini untuk anak-anak. Bahasanya tentu saja lebih sederhana. Kasusnya jauh lebih sederhana daripada seri dewasanya yang kasusnya juga kebanyakan sederhana :D. Bahkan bisa dibilang di buku ini tidak ada kasus sama sekali. Lah dari awal juga pembaca udah tahu siapa biang keladi kasus ini berangkat dari judulnya :P. Tapi sepertinya memang menuliskan misteri bukanlah tujuan utama penulis.
Buku ini memuat prinsip-prinsip penting dalam hidup yang di
Jun 14, 2013 Michele rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-of-2013
A cute easy read. I really loved the illustrations. I enjoyed what he said in the back that he wrote it so it could be read in families. Love that idea.
Apr 08, 2014 Liza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african, liam, childrens
While "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" was too fluffy of a book for me personally, this children's series about Precious as a young girl in Botswana is great. The plot is simple enough for 5-year-olds to enjoy, yet the cultural aspect and stories of life in Botswana even entertained a 10-year-old (and myself!). The story starts out with an interesting tale of an encounter with a lion, then leads into the mystery of treats being stolen at school. If you want to educate your children about anot ...more
This mystery is mediocre to say the least. When I saw the alternate title on goodreads, I immediately figured out the identity of the culprits. Talk about depressing! Not only that, it wasn't highly detailed; there wasn't much suspense within the pages. Even if I hadn't read the alternate title, I probably would have still been disappointed to some extent.

With all that said, it does teach a valuable lesson about accusing others without any evidence. There is definite heart to the story and a goo
Cheryl Belt-Jackson
middle school students
Precious Ramotswe is an ayoung african girl who always wanted to grow up to be a detective.
This is a story of finding out who is the thief in her class.
What I like about this story is the closeness and support of her family. The nararator gives the reader such a great outline, that you get lost in the story with a feeling that you are there with them. You are emersed in the book.
A classroom game could be the old fashion who done it. With a few clues or students acti

Charming little story.
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Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the international phenomenon The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie Series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, and the 44 Scotland Street series. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has served on many national and international bodies concerned with bioethics. He was born in what ...more
More about Alexander McCall Smith...

Other Books in the Series

Precious Ramotswe's Very First Cases (4 books)
  • Precious and the Mystery of Meerkat Hill (Precious Ramotswe's Very First Cases, #2)
  • Precious and the Mystery of the Missing Lion (Precious Ramotswe's Very First Cases, #3)
  • Precious and the Zebra Necklace

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“You can lose a piece of plain bread and not think twice about it, but when you lose one spread thickly with strawberry jam it's an altogether more serious matter.” 0 likes
“But just because somebody has lots of sweets does not mean that he has stolen them. One thing, you see, does not always lead to another.” 0 likes
More quotes…