Disney is publishing a children’s book written by CDS parent Robert Beatty.
Serafina and the Black Cloak is a combination of historical fiction and spooky mystery-thriller. It’s about an unusual twelve-year-old girl who lives secretly in the basement of Biltmore Estate in 1899. Her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, has told her to never lever herself be seen, so Serafina prowls through the darkened corridors at night. But one night, everything begins to change...
When Robert Beatty wrote Serafina and the Black Cloak, he enlisted his wife Jennifer and his daughters, CDS students Camille (9th) and Genevieve (Key 7th), to help develop the story, refine the characters, and improve the details of the writing. They have been working on it as a family project for years. They also drew upon the assistance of CDS students, parents, and teachers to provide feedback, which was then incorporated into the manuscript. As the book proceeds toward its July 14 launch, the community effort continues. The Beatty family worked with CDS parent and ACDS/CDS '88 alum Robin Turner at Bonesteel Films to produce a three-minute video book trailer, which was shot on location at Biltmore Estate. The beautiful gothic-styled dress featured in the trailer was made by his wife Jennifer. The dog in the trailer was trained by his daughter Camille. The Serafina role was played by his daughter Genevieve.
Working with middle school teachers Sandy Pyeatt and Elaine Dephouse, Robert participated in the “Serafina Xpedition” for the last four weeks. CDS middle school Xpeditions is a program in which students take an elective class held on Friday afternoons. Ten CDS middle schoolers signed up for the Serafina Xpedition in which they read and studied an advanced review copy of the book. Robert instructed the students in writing techniques, historical fiction, developing characters, establishing conflict-action-resolution, the publication process, and many other topics. The classroom activity culminated with a field trip to Biltmore Estate for a special “Serafina Tour” led by the author. The students went deep into the basement and sub-basement, climbed up into the off-limits organ loft, spied the house’s secret doors, and explored the main rooms of the house—following Serafina’s footsteps through all the areas described in the book. It was great fun and education for everyone involved.