Kid’s Book Review: The Valley of the Lost Secrets

Kid’s Book Review: The Valley of the Lost Secrets

About the Book and Author

This is a mystery adventure story for readers aged 10-14 years, set in Wales during the Second World War, from a newly published writer called Lesley Parr. It is published by Bloomsbury.

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.


The Valley of Lost Secrets_Cover
Lesley Parr author

Lesley Parr grew up in South Wales, at the bottom of a valley and quite near a seaside steelworks. She divides my time between writing stories, tutoring adults and teaching at a primary school. Apart from books, rugby union is her favourite thing in the world, especially if Wales is winning! She graduated with distinction from Bath Spa University’s MA in Writing for Young People. The Valley of Lost Secrets is her first book.


Book Review

I noticed a secret code at the bottom of each left page (a letter instead of the page number), adding to the mystery!

The Valley of Lost Secrets is a book I found deeply emotional but thoroughly enjoyed reading. I was drawn to the book because I had studied World War Two at school and loved reading the wartime classic with my class: “Goodnight Mister Tom” by Michelle Magorian. The Valley of Lost Secrets offered a different fictional perspective of evacuation during the war, seeing three London children move to the Welsh countryside.

I would say the novel is suited for Year 6 and above based on the subject matter and some offensive language used throughout the novel. The description of the Welsh countryside made me feel as if I was there and the story gripped me, making me empathise with every hard situation evacuees had to face. It made me realise how hard it must be to be away from your parents for so long!

From the start of the book, mysteries pile up and the reader starts asking questions about this countryside where everyone is strangely quiet. The main illustration in the book is found at the start of each chapter. It shows an old tree, a wych elm in a field near a stream where the protagonists spend much time in this location.

As the book progresses, objects are added on the tree, reflecting new friendships with the main characters or questions answered about these mysterious objects. About a quarter through, I noticed a secret code at the bottom of each left page (a letter instead of the page number), adding to the mystery! All these details were sure to keep me reading constantly to solve the puzzle!

The end left me deeply moved and I even shed a few tears. I would definitely recommend the novel to others who like adventure and mystery.

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Reviewer Profile

Iona reviewer
  • Name: Iona
  • Age: 10 years
  • Likes: reading, playing football and nature
  • Dislikes: aubergines and getting up too early
  • Favourite Book: the Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • Favourite Film: High School Musical 1-2-3
  • Favourite Song: Rewrite the Stars from The Greatest Showman