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The Secret Hen House Theatre

The Secret Hen House Theatre

Author Helen Peters
Series Helen Peters series




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Since the death of her mother, Hannah’s family life has been somewhat chaotic. Her father is absorbed by running their dilapidated farm, and the four children are increasingly left to their own devices. These include “farming” each room of the house, looking after an enormous pet sheep called Jasper, and writing and directing plays in a disused hen house. But when the farm is threatened with demolition, Hannah determines to save it and realize her dreams at the same time.

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What the Critics Said

“Curtains swish again in Helen Peters’s excellent debut novel … A stage-struck 11-year-old girl living on a tumbledown farm, her best friend who is a talented designer, a mean rival with her own theatre group also entering the local competition, a pet ram who butts away unwelcome visitors: what’s not to like?”
– The Independent

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“This is a brilliant book. The farm is described beautifully, even the mucky bits, so you feel you know your way around it and love it as much as Hannah. The characters are very real and I like the way arguments between the children are described. I loved this book so much that I read it in one weekend. There are clues that might lead to a sequel and I hope there is one. I’ll be queuing up to buy it.”

– Lottie Walden, Booktime Magazine

“So gripping and unputdownable it seemed to be stuck in my hands”

– Esther Burridge, aged 11

“In the best tradition of Noel Streatfeild and Pamela Brown, Peters captures the very special thrill of devising and producing a show … It feels refreshing to read such an honest to goodness adventure story”

– Books for Keeps

“Debut author Helen Peters has the kind of entrancing storytelling skills that immediately put her in the league of classic children’s authors such as Noel Streatfeild and Nina Bawden … Imaginative and appealing, The Secret Hen House Theatre is the sort of book that you hope will never end”

– Red House

“Anyone that loves reading and farm animals or is involved in drama would surely love this book. Helen Peters’ descriptions of farm life are so accurate, the story really comes to life. I couldn’t put the book down!”

– Maude Wilks, Booktime Magazine

“I loved this book about Hannah’s fight to save her farm – and the clever plan she concocts to try to save the day”

– The Phoenix Comic

“A heartwarming story … with themes of friendship, family, and coming to terms with loss, it’s a moving and inspiring novel.”

– Booktime Magazine

“A heart-warming debut that will whisk you away in the spirit of I Capture the Castle. A treat.”

– Sophie Lording, Hay Festival

“Where farms meet theatre, the feathers are sure to fly in this fabulous debut novel”

– Daily Mirror

“Peters depicts a cast of strong and believable characters … With a hint of Pamela Brown’s ‘The Swish of the Curtain’, there is much for aspiring young actors to enjoy here, but this hugely enjoyable story of family, friendship and country life will also have a broad appeal for children at upper primary level.”

– Booktrust

“As a child I loved The Swish of the Curtain, and The Secret Hen House Theatre is another engaging book about threatened amateur dramatics.”

– Julia Donaldson (The Guardian)

“Full of action, with a happy ending, this is a book I didn’t want to finish.”

– Michael Morpurgo (The Guardian)

“There is something timeless about Helen Peters’s accomplished and hugely engaging debut novel … Drawn with humour and affection, Hannah’s world is utterly convincing.”

Children’s Book of the Week

– The Guardian

“The sort of story you want to melt into … The trials and charms of farm life create a world where characters will start to feel like friends.”

– The Independent

“Helen Peters’ debut evokes the strange wonder of life on a farm with real affection … Hannah’s own problems have to compete with family-sized troubles and the sibling relationships are sweet and realistic. Through Hannah’s inspiring determination the secret theatre blooms into life, and like this story, it’s magical.”

– We Love This Book

“An engaging tale about family and friendship”

– The Sunday Times

“A beautifully written debut novel”

– The Bookseller

“One of my favourite summer reads: a contemporary family adventure with secrets, wonderful characters and lots of heart. Dreamy girls will love the drama-competition plot, with nostalgic echoes of The Swish of the Curtain.”

– The Bookseller

“Absolutely delightful … Astonishingly accomplished for a first novel, it is on one level an engaging story about a group of children determinedly staging a play in a disused old henhouse and, on another, a warm-hearted and compassionate account of a family coming to terms with loss. I enjoyed the proof so much that I read it in two sittings.”

– Ham & High

“Through Hannah’s inspiring determination the secret theatre blooms into life, and like this story, it’s magical.”

We Love This Book

Rights Sold

French, Chinese (simplified), Turkish

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