Ghost of the Chicken Coop Theater
Winner of the 2009 Silver Medal for Best Children's Fiction in the Florida Publishers Association 2009 President's Book Award Contest
During summer vacation, Bailey Fish and her friends, adopted brothers Noah and Fred Keswick and their foster sister, Sparrow, convert an abandoned chicken coop into a theater and write a play about historical ghosts and space travelers. Then new guests, Li’l Bonbon and her husband, Bean, arrive at Keswick Inn. The children’s plans for their theatrical production are thwarted when the mean and bossy Li’l Bonbon takes over their show. The boys’ mother warns the kids to be polite to guests, no matter what! Emotions rise as the kids rehearse Li’l Bonbon’s play about the Civil War in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and worry about a missing dog. Bailey makes a dramatic rescue and learns a valuable lesson about dealing with bullies, even if they are adults.
The embedded history is about the Angel of Marye’s Heights during the Battle of Fredericksburg. There are pictures of the statute to commemorate Sergeant. Richard Kirkand’s compassion for the wounded and dying Union enemy, plus historic and modern pictures of the Sunken Road, and a map of the battle.
Here's an excerpt from the book.
Don't miss the excitement of the whole adventure series.
That night, Bailey woke up every hour with the bonging grandfather clock. Twice she looked out her window to see if Clover was in Sugar’s dark yard. No white dog. When she drifted back to sleep, Bailey dreamt about a purring ghost. She woke up to find her cat Sallie sleeping next to her ear.
When the sun rose, Bailey could tell it was going to be another steamy day. She quickly dressed, hurried downstairs, left a note for her grandmother, Sugar, and ran through the woods to Keswick Inn. Little Clover didn’t rush out to greet her.
Bailey heard shouting. Noah appeared from the left of the house, and soon Fred came from the right side. She could see that Noah’s face was streaked with brown marks. Bailey had never seen a boy crying before. She wasn’t sure if she should say anything or pretend she didn’t notice.
“I hope Mom and Dad find her,” Fred said. “They’re hunting, too.” He put his arm around his brother. Noah hugged Fred briefly then went into the house. When he came out he looked hard at Sparrow, then headed to the end of the driveway. “Clooo-ver. Clover girl. Come, girl.” His voice was hoarse from shouting.
(Soon his mother, Miss Bekka, came out to remind them about the morning rehearsal.)
“I told Li’l Bonbon you’d be there,” said his mother firmly. “Dogs have a way of running away, hiding, and then returning. We have to go on with our lives in the meantime. Besides, it’s very sweet of Li’l Bonbon to help you out during her vacation. She’s a generous and talented person.”
“But, Mom,” said Noah . . .
"I got your new book 4 days ago and I finished it. It was a great book. I was sad when Clover ran away. Then they found her. I didn't like Bonbon. Tell me when the next book comes out." Sincerely, Sean
“What (the author) does so well in her books is to incorporate what might seem to be unusual life situations in ways that threat them as normal parts of life. And that is a great service: to teach children to embrace the unexpected.”—from the father of an adopted eight-year-old.
“Ghost of the Chicken Coop Theater is a great story. It uses some historical facts along with a great storyline. It shows kids who have an imagination for their own fun. It also serves as a lesson on how to deal with a bully, even if the bully is an adult. I loved this book and didn’t want to set it down until I was completely finished. Ghost of the Chicken Coop Theater will have you cackling with laughter from start to finish.” Brianne Plach (age 10) for Reader Views
Sample discussion question:
Bailey notices that Li’l Bonbon’s voice changes from “songbird to growling dog” when the other adults are not around. Have you ever known adults or any children who behave quite differently when the teacher or a parent cannot hear what they are saying? Why do you think Li’l Bonbon changes when she’s around the adults?
Links: www.civilwarhome.com/Kirkland.htm | http://www.civilwarhome.com/fredrick.htm | www.cr.nps.gov/hps/ABPP/BATTLES/va028.htm | www.civilwar.org/historyclassroom/hc_fredericksburghist.htm |
www.civilwar.org/historyclassroom/hc_music.htm (Listen to the tunes.)