The Valley of Lost Secrets

(5 reviews with an average rating of 5 out of 5)

Publisher: Bloomsbury

It’s 1939, and Jimmy and his little brother Ronnie have been evacuated to a tiny, quiet village in Wales. After the hustle and bustle of London, it’s a bit of a shock – people say lots of things that are hard to understand, the food’s unusual (but very delicious), and the woman who’s taken them in insists Ronnie and Jimmy call her ‘Auntie’ – even though they’ve never met before.

Jimmy can’t wait to go home – but when he finds a mysterious skull in a tree, he and his brother are compelled to unravel its story. In a new village full of strangers, Jimmy has to be careful who he shares his secrets with.

This beautiful book, reminiscent of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five stories and Michelle Magorian's Goodnight Mister Tom, explores so many heartfelt themes in its short chapters; the bond between Jimmy and his little brother, the kindness of strangers, and the amazing things that can happen when we take the time to really see somebody – even if everybody else looks straight through them. Lesley Parr perfectly captures the fear and defensiveness of Jimmy, a young boy thrown into a new world but knowing that he must take care of his brother at any cost. The mystery of the skull has a brilliant pay-off, and there are enough red herrings thrown in to keep you guessing until the very end.

Each new chapter is illustrated with the tree hiding the skull – but eagle-eyed readers might notice that the tree begins to share clues of its own as the story goes on. There’s also a terrific code to crack at the end, for those hungering for even more mystery.

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