Precious and the Monkeys
Alexander McCall Smith
Edinburgh, Polygon, 2011, 73p
I love the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books. I first discovered them through the television adaptation, with their wit, intelligence, and beautiful Botswanan landscape.
Precious and the Monkeys is the childhood story of Precious' first investigation. At school, sweets and snacks start to go missing from people's bags - cake, iced buns, etc. The victims start to jump to conclusions, and accuse a shy boy with a big appetite, but with no evidence. Precious believes his innocence, and sets out to find the real culprit.
Written in a childlike language, this book is very accessible. Precious seems to have a natural talent for finding the truth, and is an endearing and kind-hearted character. The story is swimming in morality, particularly in relation to the false accusation of the innocent boy. She tries to comfort him, telling him that he shouldn't care what other people think, but she is also aware that it is hard not to care about how others see you.
I adore light reads like this - beautifully written, full of adorable illustrations, with a moral undercurrent. It is the kind of novel a parent could enjoy with their young child - a shared experience of reading.