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Posted by Kirsty, April 5, 2012

The Secret Hen House Theatre is out today

The Slush Pile. Every publishing house has one (unless of course it has closed its doors to submissions). And every editor dreams of plucking the Next Big Thing from it. Which is exactly what happened seventeen months and two Nosy Crow offices ago to THE SECRET HEN HOUSE THEATRE by Helen Peters , published today! (I’d love to claim credit for the plucking but can’t – step forward, Mr Adrian Soar, and take your bow.)

From first read, it was clear that this book is set to become a classic and that Helen Peters is an author with a great future ahead of her. The story, of a girl who pulls her chaotic family back from the brink through imagination, courage and a joyful commitment to secret theatres and muddy farmhouse living, is entirely engaging. It’s funny, sad, dramatic and impossible to put down. And here it is, already gracing the shelves of the Muswell Hill children’s bookshop.

A little snippet:

“The sow was charging straight towards her. Hannah turned and ran, the pig splashing and squealing behind her. Thick wet clay, heavy as concrete, clung to her boots. Dad crashed through the hedge just ahead and ran full tilt towards the enormous sow at her heels. And Hannah tripped over his boot and fell flat on her face into a gigantic puddle. She staggered to her feet, soaked to the skin. Freezing water cascaded down her back and legs. The world had gone dark. Her eyes were stuck together with mud, and she tried to wipe them but her hands and sleeves were coated with mud too. She could feel her hair plastered to her face. Through the muddy water in her ears she heard Martha’s laughter.”

I’ve read THE SECRET HEN HOUSE THEATRE many times now and it still makes me laugh. And I’ll admit, get a bit choked more than once. And it always makes me glad I don’t keep pigs. Congratulations, Helen, on writing a brilliant novel that everyone loves and happy publication day!