From the Cover of Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty:
“‘Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.’
Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the frouds of Biltmore Estate. There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists.
But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity… before all of the children vanish one by one.”
Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 4 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]
What Our Family Thought:
This story was written for a general audience but appears to deal with adoption issues in a way that will create an atmosphere for healthy conversation. It seems to be written for upper elementary and middle school aged children (ages 9+). However, we would note that like many entertaining and popular stories this tale will most likely engage and entertain even people from 14 through 99 years old.
It was suggested to my family to read this book as something we would like. We were pleasantly surprised to not only find adventure, thrills and a dash of magic in a setting at a historical landmark close to our home BUT we also discovered great adoption topics for conversation woven throughout the story.
This book centers around the life of Serafina, an adopted girl who secretly lives in the basement of the Biltmore Estate with her adoptive father – who happens to work at the estate. The thrills, mystery and adrenaline flow right from the first chapter as Serafina witnesses a man in a black cloak kidnapping a child who was staying at the estate as a guest. As the books’ synopsis states, it’s up to this adoptive girl to solve the mystery and save the day.
If you long for your children to scream, “Please, just read one more chapter!” then this book needs to find it’s way into your home.
Since Serafina was adopted by her father, she tends to think a lot about her birth family throughout the tale. She also deals with the issue of feeling as though she were betraying her adoptive father by longing to discover her origins. Caregivers will also be able to relate as Serafina’s adoptive father must also wrestle with doing what is in the best interest of his daughter and knowing what information to share and when to share it.
There are a couple of issues that might be trauma triggering for foster or adoptive children (to learn more about these be sure to watch our video above on this book). However, we feel that the positives far outweigh the potential negatives with this tale.
As our grading guidelines state, this review is not allowed to give a piece of media not directly created for foster care or adoption to receive full marks. However, we almost made an exception for this story since it appears to be quite excellent in engaging your family and creating an atmosphere for healthy conversations.
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It’s Your Turn:
- How does Serafina feel about her appearance?
- Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in? How? When?
- How does her peculiarities help Serafina in the book?
- Did Serafina love her Pa? How do you know?
- Did her Pa make mistakes? What were they? Did Serafina still love him?
- Was it wrong for Serafina to wonder who her birth mom was?
- Do you ever think about your birth family? When? What do you think about?
- Would you have put the black cloak on? Why?
- How did Serafina feel about her birth mom at the end of the book?