Valletta and the Year of Changes’ by Simone Mansell Broome is a chapter book with beautiful illustrations that follows a fiery little mouse called Valletta Stowaway and her family. The first thing that struck me was the lovely illustrations by Cerys Susannah Rees, on the cover and of the family tree. I think that young readers will find them enchanting.
The story flows well, we see the Stowaway clan have to come to terms with the lockdown, as the humans do above the floorboards of 46 Spring Blossom Road. Focusing on positivity, kindness and family support this book covers a lot of the feelings I’m sure lots of young readers would have been feeling during the initial stages of lockdown, from a lack of certainty to cabin fever and frustration about not being able to go on holiday. I like the Stowaway song that’s repeated throughout the story and I could see younger readers joining in with it throughout.
A very relevant picture book to the events of the past 18 months or so but with larger messages about family support and community. With entertaining characters and lovely illustrations, I see this book having a wide appeal.’