Precious Ramotswe Series

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
Precious Ramotswe Series Book Poster Image
Kind, brave 9-year-old solves fun mysteries in Botswana.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lessons in using logic and persevering are sprinkled amid facts about the people, animals, and natural landscape of Botswana.

Positive Messages

"Be kind and curious" seems to be the unwritten theme of these mysteries, with Precious making new friends and helping solve problems that come up in their day-to-day lives.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The teachers, parents, neighbors, and other adults are kind and supportive of Precious and one another, and the children model good friendships.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Alexander McCall Smith's Precious Ramotswe series is the young readers' version of the popular No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which was adapted for a TV series.  This series chapter book features Precious as a 9-year-old child in Botswana. The books are all about storytelling, with long, gentle conversations between Precious and the reader. When Precious sees a problem or mystery that needs solving, she jumps in to help. She's brave and honest, but not quite fearless, which makes her relatable to young readers who would also feel scared to go into the wilderness to look for a lost lion, or intimidated when she explains a mistake to adults.

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What's the story?

The PRECIOUS RAMOTSWE series is the young readers' version of Alexander McCall Smith's wildly popular No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, featuring Precious as a 9-year-old child in Botswana. Precious is gifted with both great observational skills and a wealth of compassion, which are evenly matched by her curiosity and ingenuity. She puts those skills to use in everyday situations that she and her friends and family face -- a lost cow, an escaped lion, a stolen piece of cake, or a friend's missing parents -- in stories that will take readers across the African continent.

Is it any good?

These fun, kid-size mysteries are full of kind, smart characters who are brave enough to jump into situations where they can help. Precious uses logic and her knowledge about everyday life in Botswana to solve the mysteries, but she isn't afraid to ask for what she needs. She's gracious and tenacious, smart and brave, and she holds a deep sense of right and wrong.

What comes through the pages of the Precious Ramotswe series, though, is often more about how happy she is to be in the world, and how lovely it is to be 9 and have friends and family she loves. The descriptions of nature and animals in Botswana are especially inviting.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what Precious Ramotswe is thinking about when she decides to solve a mystery. Does she do it to get something in return, or does she just want to help?

  • What does Precious do when she's feeling intimidated, scared, or unsure? What do you do when you feel that way?

  • What other mystery books do you like?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mysteries and strong girls

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