The Valley of Lost Secrets

Lesley Parr

The Valley of Lost Secrets
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The Valley of Lost Secrets

Lesley Parr

Beautifully told. This appealing book is about losses healed, lies uncovered, cruelty defeated and goodness rewarded. The Sunday Times September 1939. When Jimmy is evacuated to a small village in Wales, it couldn’t be more different from London. Green, quiet and full of strangers, he instantly feels out of place. But then he finds a skull hidden in a tree, and suddenly the valley is more frightening than the war. Who can Jimmy trust? His brother is too little; his best friend has changed. Finding an ally in someone he never expects, they set out together to uncover the secrets that lie with the skull. What they discover will change Jimmy - and the village - forever. A mesmerising mystery about bravery and brotherhood from an outstanding new voice.

Review

Stories of children escaping to the countryside during the Blitz in the Second World War are perennially popular, from Goodnight Mr Tom to The War That Saved My Life. This debut novel takes a slightly different tack with an intriguing mystery.

A classroom of children from London are sent to a small town in Wales, where strong friendships are broken, and new alliances are formed. Jimmy and his younger brother, Ronnie, are placed with a kind couple, the Thomases. But there is ill will between them and the local priest, Reverend Evans, whose son thrives on bullying others.

Jimmy’s best friend has been placed with the Reverend and his friendship can no longer be relied upon. When a desperately unhappy Jimmy retreats to an old oak tree, he makes a gruesome discovery: a skull hiding among its roots. Solving the mystery of the skull and the animosity between the villagers may be the key to helping Jimmy feel as if he belongs. This is an impressive debut with friendship and mystery at its heart. Suitable for readers aged 9+.


Angela Crocombe is the manager of Readings Kids.

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