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Lesley grew up in South Wales, at the bottom of a valley and quite near a seaside steelworks. Now she lives in the middle of England (almost as far from the sea as it's possible to get) with her husband and their rescue cat, Angharad. Lesley shares her time between writing stories and teaching at a primary school. Lesley graduated with distinction from Bath Spa University's MA in Writing for Young People. The Valley of Lost Secrets is her first book. @WelshDragonParr
January 2022 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2022 | With a strong Welsh setting and a deep sense of community When the War Came Home sensitively explores the impact of World War One on some of the survivors – both soldiers and civilians. Furious that she has to move home when her mother loses her job, Natty is sure that she is going to hate living with her cousins in a different Welsh valley. Everything, especially school, is very different. But Natty’s view of her new home is changed because she meets two young men who have come back from fighting in the First World War. The war may be over but her cousin Huw still suffers great grief from losing his best friend as well as terrible flashbacks when there are loud bangs while Johnny, a young boy from the local hospital for ex-soldiers, doesn’t even know who he is. Natty is determined to help both the boys and to solve a mystery. It is an excellent story which gives a thoughtful insight into the long term effects of war.
Shortlisted for The Branford Boase Award 2022 | Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Award 2022 ages 7-10 | January 2021 Debut of the Month | Lesley Parr’s story of evacuees is rich in atmosphere and a sense of place, and uses its wartime setting to explore themes of community, understanding and self-forgiveness. Along with other children at their school, Jimmy and his little brother Ronnie have been sent hundreds of miles away from London to the safety of a small mining town in South Wales, and it couldn’t be further from what they know. Jimmy is determined they won’t stay long, and that the place won’t change him, even as it’s transforming his classmates: Florence Campbell for example, who is free to become someone else, far away from her abusive family. The village has its secrets though, and the discovery of a set of bones in a tree leads Jimmy to solve a decades old mystery and, in the process, to help those living with loss and guilt. The place and its people are carefully and skilfully evoked, with the adults, particularly Jimmy and Ronnie’s new ‘family’ of Aunty Gwen and Uncle Alun the miner, likely to be as fascinating to readers as the younger protagonists. The mystery will certainly keep readers gripped but it’s the characters and the place that will stay with them. Evacuees are a rich source for children’s adventure stories, examples include Michelle Magorian’s classic Goodnight Mister Tom, and Jacqueline Wilson’s more recent Wave Me Goodbye.