This book is McCall Smith's second book in the "Akimbo" series and like virtually all his books, it is masterfully done. In this book, Akimbo goes on a trip with his father, the new Head Gamekeeper of the wildlife preserve. They have gone to check out reports that a lion is eating cattle. The loss of cattle is akin to the loss of pure gold in Akimbo's part of Africa. Thus, such a lion must be handled.
Akimbo begs his father to take him on the trip. With some trepidation, his father agrees. The team of Gamekeepers and Akimbo travel to the farm which has reported the problem. No one actually has seen the lion, but they believe by the sounds and the results that it is surely a lion. The Gamekeepers set a trap, using a goat as bait. The trap is supposed to work by capturing the lion when he goes to get the goat.
The trap is set up, and Akimbo and his father get set to wait out the night and see what happens. As luck would have it, the lion does show up on that night. The trap is sprung, and Akimbo's father goes to check the trap. As soon as his father leaves the hiding place, Akimbo notices, he has forgotten his rifle. His father approaches the trap, and is dismayed to find, the lion is not in the trap. The lion is standing outside the trap, and starts to close in on Akimbo's father.
Akimbo has never shot a rifle before, but he has observed his father use it. He picks up the gun. He aims, and his father tells him, "Shoot into the air." Akimbo does so twice. The lion leaves quickly. Then they go to find out why the trap di not work, and find that it is sprung. Inside is a very small baby lion cub. The rest of the book discusses Akimbo's relationship with the lion cub, and the eventual release of the lion into the wild.
Once again, McCall Smith has created a wonder of a book. It is highly recommended as a children's story. It provides a look at a very different society and world than the American world. In addition, it shows the respect of the people for the animals. All parents with young children should find this book a great addition to their children's reading library.