Tracey Corderoy, with artwork by Hannah Whitty
It’s Riley the Mouse’s birthday today. He can’t wait for his party and have lots of fun with best friends Starla the Badger and Horatio the Hedgehog. But things don’t quite go to plan when a misunderstanding about a toy boat ends up with Riley and Horatio falling out. Will the friends make up in time for Riley’s party?
This new series about a group of animals who live hidden from view in a valley surrounded by woodland is gentle and charming, with an old-fashioned feel to it, and will be lovely for young readers who love stories involving animals. It is very much reminiscent of the Brambly Hedge series, even in the design of the cover, and will be a nice step up for young readers ready to move on to something a little bit more challenging. The Willow Valley series is a little bit more modern and current than Brambly Hedge, and young readers will be able to relate to themes such as the friendship issue between Horatio and Riley.
The artwork by Hannah Whitty is attractive, and its sweet and gentle look is well in tone with the story. I particularly love the cover, which uses such vibrant colours.
The size of text is large and split in reasonable size chunks, and the simple storyline will make this series accessible for newly independent readers.
Willow Valley is a lovely little series, with an attractive small and colourful format which will be enjoyed by little girls, and particularly those who love stories featuring animals. Following on from that, young readers could move on to longer stories such as Emily Bearn’s Tumtum & Nutmeg or more traditional stories such as Michael Bond’s Olga da Polga (see my review here) and Dick King-Smith’s many animal stories.