Serafina and the Black Cloak - Robert Beatty

I am a little behind with this book (my to-read pile is possibly wildly out of control, but thankfully, mostly virtual). For you, this means that I am probably not the first person telling you about Serafina, but for me, it means that the second book is going to be out soon (July) and I won’t have to wait long to get my hands on it.

 

There were several reasons I chose this book from NetGalley. First, I am a huge fan of scrappy girls, magic, and mysteries. Even better, a story with a scrappy girl who solves mysteries with magic. Second, I once, many years ago, took the behind-the-scenes tour at the Biltmore mansion and I never forgot what an astonishing, groundbreaking place it was. When I saw this book, I agreed it was the perfect setting for a mystery.

 

I read that the author wrote this story for his three daughters, so that would explain the heroic Dad and the Disney-esque treatment of the Mom (oops, wait, this is a Disney imprint? Almost forgot for a minute!) But seriously, I will forgive all of that because Beatty has delivered a true gem, and I’m not just saying that because the book has spent all of the time since it was published on the NY Times bestseller list. But, if that kind of thing is important to you, at least you don’t have to take my word for it. I will join the masses, though, in praise of this book. It is a perfect read for middle-schoolers or a snuggle-together read-aloud. I read it before either of my daughters, so now I will just have to watch them read it (which they love, trust me). There are some scary parts, but these are gentle and balanced by characters drawn with skill and affection. Something about it reminded me of Kate DiCamillo’s The Magician’s Elephant, it seemed to share the thrilling sense of wonder and triumph at the end. Don’t wait as long as I did, get to it now so that you’re ready in time for Serafina and the Twisted Staff.