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Debut novel wins 2022 Tir na n-Og English-language Children’s Book Award

20 May 2022 3 minute read
The Valley of Lost Secrets by Lesley Parr

The Valley of Lost Secrets by Lesley Parr is this year’s winner of the 2022 Tir na n-Og English-language award for children’s and young people’s literature.

Established in 1976, the annual Tir na n-Og Awards celebrate the best books for children and young adults in Wales. They are organised by the Books Council of Wales and sponsored by the librarians’ association CILIP Cymru Wales.

The other nominees on the shortlist were Swan Song by Gill Lewis, Welsh Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends by Claire Fayers, and 10 Stories From Welsh History by Ifan Morgan Jones.

The winning book, The Valley of Lost Secrets, a novel for readers aged 8–12, is a gripping wartime drama set in the south Wales valleys.

Jimmy, his little brother Ronnie and their class have been evacuated to Llanbryn from London. Their hosts Gwen and Alun Thomas offer a warm Welsh welcome, but it’s a completely alien landscape and Jimmy finds it hard to settle into the community.

‘Totally absorbing’

Simon Fisher from the judging panel said: “Lesley Parr has written a beautiful, tender and totally absorbing debut with characters to care about. You are drawn into this captivating story from the beginning, connecting immediately to the authentic characters.

“David Dean’s beautiful cover and illustrations add something rather special to the book. At the start of each chapter there is a tree spreading out over the page. As the story develops items of relevance are added to the tree. These additional puzzles make for an intriguing and utterly beguiling read.

“Despite being a fictional name for the valley, the landscape and community are totally authentic, evocative and lovingly described. A book which will stay with you and you will want to return to the Valley again and again.”

Lesley Parr said: “I’m absolutely landed (as we say in Port Talbot!) to have won a Tir na n-Og Award for my debut book.

“This feels extra-special as I’m very proud to be Welsh, and love setting my stories in the sort of valley community I know so well.”

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales said: “The Tir na n-Og Awards have been celebrating the very best books for children and young people in Wales since 1976, and the quality of the entries just keeps getting better and better.”

The winners of the two Welsh-language category Tir na n-Og Awards 2022 will be revealed at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Denbighshire on Thursday 2 June 2022.

Three titles are shortlisted for the prize in each category. They are:

Primary age category

  • Gwil Garw a’r Carchar Crisial by Huw Aaron (Broga)
  • Sara Mai a Lleidr y Neidr by Casia Wiliam (Y Lolfa)
  • Gwag y Nos by Sioned Wyn Roberts (Atebol)


Secondary age category

  • Fi ac Aaron Ramsey by Manon Steffan Ros (Y Lolfa)
  • Hanes yn y Tir by Elin Jones (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch)
  • Y Pump, ed. Elgan Rhys (Y Lolfa)

The Valley of Lost Secrets by Lesley Parr is published by Bloomsbury and you can buy a copy here…

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