Book Extensions, book review

Serafina and the Black Cloak Book Review and Extension Activities

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I have to say RUN, as fast as you can to your nearest bookstore and get this book. My word, what an incredible read! This book is a masterfully told thriller with loads of mystery, intrigue, setting, and spookiness. It is storytelling at it’s finest.

We are celebrating Halloween this year by jumping into the fine pages of Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty of Asheville North Carolina. Please read this book anytime of year, we have chosen it as the Halloween Special but it’s a fine read the other 364 days of the year as well.

An exciting new mystery-thriller about an unusual girl who lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate and must solve a dark and dangerous mystery. This Disney Hyperion novel became a New York Times Bestseller in the first week of its release, and has been a smash hit ever since.-Amazon
“Never go into the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.”


This spooky tale is about Seraphina, an odd girl who lives in the basement of the Biltmore Estate, in 1899. Serafina and her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, live in the basement of the great estate. No one knows they live there. Serafina’s pa has forbidden her to do a couple of things. First she must never be seen by anyone. Second she must never ever venture beyond the grounds of the Biltmore Estate and into the forest. There are very dangerous and spooky things that live there. Third she must never venture upstairs where all the rich folk live.  Along with not being seen, no one even knows Serafina exists.  But not being seen or heard doesn’t mean Serafina doesn’t venture out. She has learned to prowl through the darkened corridors at night, to sneak and hide, using the mansion’s hidden doors and secret passageways.

One night Serafina hears noises she’s never heard at night before. She discovers mysterious foul play at hand. Children at the estate start disappearing but only Serafina knows the clues and passageways to follow. There’s a terrifying man in a black cloak stalking about the corridors at night at the Biltmore Estate.  Risking everything, Serafina joins forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, young orphaned nephew of Vanderbilt’s owner George Vanderbilt. Serafina and Braeden must uncover who the man in the black cloak is before all of the children on the estate disappear. The hunt takes them to the forest which Serafina has been taught to fear. There, she discovers a legacy of magic not known before. To save the children Serafina must face her fiercest and darkest enemy. To do so she must first discover the strange mystery around her own identity.

I have to confess that we have a great connection to the Biltmore Estate, the setting for this story. We live just a couple of hours away in the Knoxville TN area and have a family membership. The woods Robert Beatty talks about we’ve walked through and had our own conversations of how anyone could be hiding there. Add to that the mystery of the Blue Ridge mountains where it is very well-known by the folklore in that region that non human beings and spirits live in the forests there. You always have to enter the forest with protection. Knowing that, can you imagine how exciting this book is for us? It’s like myth and legend have sprung to life.

cat eye forest

photo credit by Robert Beatty

Rarely do I make predictions where books are concerned but I feel safe to say that this book will become a classic in children’s literature. I haven’t seen a book of this finesse come around for a while. We loved it’s spookiness. It’s a very manageable level of spookiness. It keeps those pages turning. The very good news is that the publisher Hyperion Disney Books is going to make this into a book series. Oh how happy are we! We can hardly wait but wait we shall! In the mean time, grab your copy of this fine book HERE.

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This money goes towards postage and supplies to keep books and ideas in the hands of young readers!

Something To Do

There are so many things to do as book extensions for this fabulous book!

Chapter One Excerpt

First why not have a read of the first chapter yourself. You’ll be hooked, and then please take my advice and get this book pronto.

Get to Know The Vanderbilt Estate

The Biltmore Estate is a gorgeous turn of the century mansion built in 1895 by George Vanderbilt.It is officially the largest home in America. This very large home hosts more than 250 rooms and around 175,00 square feet.

Biltmore estates

Set in the Blue Ridge mountains in Asheville, North Carolina it is a wonderful place to visit. I’m not sure how many rooms are open to the public but there are a lot of them. You’ll get to tour the two upstairs floors that Serafina isn’t suppose to go on. You’ll also get to go in the two basements but the slimy sub basement wasn’t on the tour the last time we went. That might be changing now with Serafina and the Black Cloak. Also something to consider are the grounds. The terraces and gardens are exquisite and are themed to bloom throughout the year. Each season is a blooming treasure to behold. Also on the estate are several places to hike and enjoy the forest which if you stay on the path isn’t scary at all BUT if you go off the path I can’t guarantee anything. You might meet a man in a black cloak and other non human type creatures. So stay on the path. We love to rent bikes and ride the bike trails. It’s one of our favorite things to do. There are also many great places to eat through the entire estate and wonderful adventures to be had.

library biltmore

Biltmore is truly a family home in opulent style.  The nice thing is they let us experience it as well. Be sure to check out their events especially the various musical concerts going on throughout the year, the gardens and special exhibits at the house.

biltmore housandgardens.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that maybe one day the Biltmore Estate will have a Serafina Tour. How cool would that be ?

Serafina Riddle Contest

Maybe you don’t have to wait for the Serafina Tour, maybe you could win one right now. The choice of prizes are a computer system or an all expense paid trip to Asheville and the Biltmore Estate plus you get to meet Robert Beatty and take a Serafina Tour with him. As you can tell I’m prone to take the travel and tour as to the computer. But it’s a free world and if you win choose what makes you happy.

First you have to answer about 12 riddles. You can find out all the details and such about the contest here.

Serafina and the Black Cloak Riddle Contest

Pumpkin Carving

It is Halloween after all, io designs has created two templates to go along with Serafina and the Black Cloak for all your jack-o-lantern needs.

Template 1


Template 2


Wishing you many happy Serafina moments !!!!!

This holiday season, give your children the gift that will nurture a lifetime of positive habits; give the gift of a book.

A Year in The Secret Garden

As parents, we want/need quality books with extension activities to help our young ones unplug and create memories. Pulling books from shelves, and stories from pages, is also an important act that will aid in them being life-long readers. Quality books with companion book extension activities are not only work to create special family time, it allows kids to solve the world’s problems without major consequences.

A Year in the Secret Garden is just such a book. This delightful children’s book from authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters offers unique and original month-by-month activities that allow readers to delve deeper into the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden! With over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together.

This book will make a great gift and be the catalyst of many hours of family growth, learning and FUN! Grab your copy ASAP and “meet me in the garden!” More details HERE!
A Year in the Secret Garden

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