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Valletta and the Year of Changes by Simone Mansell Broome

‘Valletta and the Year of Changes’ is a beautifully illustrated book suitable for 7 to 11 year old children. We particularly liked the illustrations of Alberta and the rather cross cat, but were disappointed at the pawcity of filled spaces on the endpiece family tree. Perhaps the Author intends to fill those spaces with her next edition? We do hope so. Regardless, full marks for this aspect of the piece.

The stories are charming and will no doubt enchant their intended audience, with just enough mouse naughtiness to please and just enough perceived danger to thrill. Children enjoy anthropomorphic characterisation and Broome scores well on this with her little touches of humousous description. We have no doubt that the little paw prints leading through the book will leave little prints on the hearts of animal loving small people.

Parental audiences will recognise Broome’s melding of ideas from Mary Norton’s ‘The Borrowers’ and Elisabeth Beresford’s ‘The Wombles’ in the work. These ‘borrowings are not easily missed and leap off the very first page with the introduction of ‘Great Uncle Leningrad’, a clear allusion to Beresford’s ‘Great Uncle Bulgaria’. This detracts from an otherwise rather endearing book by an author who can write originally and imaginatively. No matter, the children will never know and we adults can keep quiet as little mice about it.

One rather odd aspect that remains a puzzle is the random placement of bold sections of text. It adds nothing and left us wondering why the author chose that approach.

All in all, we feel that this is a super buy for a child who enjoys gentle adventures with creatures as main characters. We almoused could not part with it.