As I indicated in my post yesterday, I seek out books about Africa. High on my list of favorites are books by Alexander McCall Smith in his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. In these books that mix insight into real African problems, gentle humor, and hope for the continent, the author creates wonderful characters who seek to act morally and to live good lives. American readers are late learning about the author's books. McCall Smith has been writing for decades. In the 1990s he wrote several series for young readers, among which was another set of books set in Africa.
I just finished Akimbo and the Crocodile Man, third in a series that has just recently been released in the United States. Akimbo is a boy who lives with his family in a national park where his father is chief ranger. In his adventures, Akimbo learns much about the wildlife in the park and invariably gets involved in typical conservation problems, such as stopping poachers or trapping animals that attack domestic animals outside the park. In Akimbo and the Crocodile Man, he helps a scientist studying the survival rates of crocodile hatchlings and must respond quickly in an emergency.
Young readers will enjoy how a preteen can act independently and make a difference in his world. They will also learn effortlessly about wildlife conservation. More public libraries should add these books, which show Africa in a positive light.
McCall Smith, Alexander. Akimbo and the Crocodile Man. New York: Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2006. ISBN 1582346925