Lesley Parr photo

Where the River Takes Us is a historical adventure set in the 1970s against a backdrop of the miners' strikes from Lesley Parr, the bestselling author of The Valley of Lost Secrets, perfect for fans of Emma Carroll, Phil Earle and Michael Morpurgo. With echoes of Stand By Me, this thrilling middle-grade adventure gives us the most exquisite characterisation and a page-turning plot with relatable themes, making this utterly timeless and one of the finest historical fiction stories in the market today. Boys and girls alike will love the daring heart-in-your-mouth action of this page-turning story. Lesley Parr will talk about her latest book, Where the River Takes Us, an adventurous quest set in South Wales in 1974. She will share the inspiration behind the story, how she formed her characters and what it was like to send them on their journey to search for a mysterious wild cat – the Beast of Blaengarw! Lesley Parr's bestselling debut novel, The Valley of Lost Secrets, won the Tir na n-Og Award and was a Waterstones Children's Book of the Month in January 2021 and published to rave reviews. Her second novel, When the War Came Home, followed with strong sales and more critical acclaim. Lesley is a former primary school teacher from a Welsh working-class background, and she is passionate about seeing more working-class voices in fiction for children.

Lesley Parr - Where the River Takes Us

'Where the River Takes Us' by Lesley Parr

From the author of The Valley of Lost Secrets comes a thrilling adventure about the power of friendship, set in a Welsh valley in the 1970s, for readers of 9+.

Jason lives with his big brother, Richie, trying their best to make ends meet so they can stay together. They've got supportive neighbours and some great friends, but there's always the threat that someone will think they can't manage on their own since their parents died. It's February 1974 and working-class families have been hit hard by the three-day week. The reduced power usage means less work, and less money to get by on. Richie is doing his best, but to make enough money, he's been doing favours for the wrong people.

An urban legend about a beast in the valleys catches Jason's eye in the local paper. A wild cat is said to roam the forest, far up the river from their bridge. A reward is offered for proof of The Beast's existence. Jason's friends are desperate to help him, and they convince him that this is the answer to his and Richie's money problems.

And so a quest begins. Four best friends soon find themselves on a journey that will change each of them … forever.

With echoes of Stand By Me, this thrilling middle-grade adventure is packed with irresistible characters and a page-turning plot with relatable themes, making this another timeless story from one of our finest writers of historical fiction for kids.