Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Serafina and the black cloak by Robert Beatty

Start with the trailer for this book - it is fabulous.

Now read this book - Yes!! you must read this book you will understand what I am about to share. I started this book last night thinking (as usual I would read a few pages).  I read over 100.  Today I took the book to a meeting.  I sat in the car and grabbed a few reading minutes. At chapter 24 something truly terrifying happens and I had to stop reading to get to my meeting!  Waiting to get back to this book was agony.

Serafina works with her Pa at the Biltmore Estate owned by the Vanderbilt family.  Serafina seems not quite human : "She had a skinny little body, nothing but muscle and bone .. Her long hair wasn't a single color like normal people had, but varying shades of gold and light brown. ... She had large, steady amber eyes. She could see at night as well as she could during the day."  This last skill is important because it is her job to catch rats around the house.  She is the CRC - Chief Rat Catcher although the Valerbilts don't even know she exists.

One night Serafina witnesses some thing truly frightening.  She sees a little girl in a yellow dress being chased through the dark corridors of the house by a man in a huge black silk cloak.  "He tangled her in his arms. She flailed and struck him in the face with her tiny fists .... the folds of the cloak slithered around her like the tentacles of a hungry serpent ... Then the fold closed over her, the scream went silent and the girl disappeared, leaving nothing but the blackness of the cloak."

This little girl, who is now missing, is called Clara.  She is the first of many missing children. Together with her new ally and friend Braeden Vanderbilt, nephew to Mrs and Mrs Vanderbilt, Serafina knows this is a mystery which must be solved but at what cost?  The final scenes will leave you gasping.

Read this review by my fellow blogger Mr K.  This is how I discovered this gem.  You can read  part of the first chapter on the Disney web site.  Good news there is a sequel - it is now on my shopping list.  Here is a set of teaching notes and a set about the vocabulary used in the book which is set in the Southern United States.

After reading Serafina and the black cloak I suggest TheThickety series, Fire girl or Fearless by Tim Lott.  All of these books are for very mature Primary readers.

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