First Novel Wins 2022 Tir na n-Og English Children’s Book Prize

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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 Prize for Children’s and Children’s Literature.

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

The other shortlisted nominees were swan song by Gil 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 Secretsa novel for readers aged 8-12, is a gripping war drama set in the valleys of South Wales.

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

“Totally absorbing”

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

“The beautiful cover and illustrations by David Dean add something quite special to the book. At the beginning of each chapter, a tree spreads across the page. As the story develops, relevant items are added to the tree. These extra puzzles make for an intriguing and thoroughly engrossing read.

“Although this is a fictional name for the valley, the landscape and the community are completely authentic, evocative and lovingly described. A book that will stay with you and make you want to come back to the valley again and again.

Lesley Parr said: “I am absolutely delighted (as they say in Port Talbot!) to have won a Tir na n-Og award for my first book.

“It feels very special to me because I’m very proud to be Welsh and I love telling my stories in the kind of valley community that 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 best books for children and young people in Wales since 1976, and the quality of entries just keeps getting better. .”

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

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

Primary age category

  • Crisis of Gwil Garw a’r Carchar by Huw Aaron (Broga)
  • Sara Mai to Lleidr and Neidr by Casia Wiliam (Y Lolfa)
  • Gwag and our by Sioned Wyn Roberts (Atebol)

Secondary age category

  • Fiac Aaron Ramsey by Manon Steffan Ros (Y Lolfa)
  • Hanes and Shooting 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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