Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak
Written by Robert Beatty

Publisher’s Summary:
In 1899, a twelve-year-old rat catcher on North Carolina’s Biltmore estate teams up with the estate owner’s young nephew to battle a great evil and, in the process, unlocks the puzzle of her past.

Primary Source Pairing:
The setting for Serafina and the Black Cloak is a real place in North Carolina. The Biltmore Estate was built between 1889-1895, and you can visit there today. Encourage students to do more research on the history of the Biltmore Estate and make connections to Serafina’s time in the mansion. For this primary source pairing, invite students to study a photograph from the early 1900s showing Biltmore Estate in all its glory. Discuss with students the significance of the setting of this story using visual evidence from the photograph analysis.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What is the physical setting?
  • What objects are shown?
  • How are they arranged?
  • What other details can you see?
  • Make a connection to Serfina’s time at Biltmore Estate with something you observe in the photograph.

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
“Biltmore, N.C.” photograph: Library of Congress

Additional Resources:
Biltmore Estate: Wikipedia