The Secret Hen House Theatre by Helen Peters

Since the death of her mother, Hannah’s family life has been chaotic.

Ignored by their dad, who’s absorbed as much by his grief as by the challenges of running their hopelessly dilapidated farm, Hannah and her brothers and sisters are left to fend for themselves. While the younger kids run riot round the farm, Hannah decides she wants to do something special, something that connects her to her theatre-loving mum. She’s going
to write and put on a play in the overgrown hen house she’s found in a remote corner of the farm. Then the farm is threatened with demolition, and Hannah – with her best friend – have to find a way to save it. Perhaps one of the props they’re using in the play is valuable after all…

First chapter:

Author website link

If you liked this, why not try…
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Butterfly Summer by Anne-Marie Conway
The Family from One End Street by Eve Garnett
One Dog and his Boy by Eva Ibbotson
Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur
Beswitched by Kate Saunders
Sky Hawk by Gill Lewis


26 thoughts on “The Secret Hen House Theatre by Helen Peters

  1. Despite the cover and blurb, I found The Secret Hen House Theatre hard to put down. It’s a gripping story and describes the worries and dreams of Hannah, the eldest of four children, who has been running the house since their mother died.
    When their town hosts an Arts Festival, Hannah and her best friend sign up to perform with a play she has written and hopes will earn them enough money to pay the rent. One problem – they don’t have a theatre – and if they don’t win, they will have to give up the farm.
    The author was brought up on a farm so knows how to bring it alive for the reader. I loved this story and will certainly read it again.

  2. This book needs a better title but it is gripping and quite emotional. I read it on holiday and found it hard to put down. I’m one of those people that read slowly and a book normally takes me a month to finish but this one only took me one week and five days.
    Hannah’s father doesn’t understand that Hannah has the brains and talent to help save the farm from being knocked down. He has no time to look after his family so Hannah has to do it. Hannah tries many ways to keep the farm on its feet but not all of them turn out as she expects.

  3. I loved this book and I even read it before it was nominated for the awards. I loved the funny parts in it, especially Jasper the Giant pet sheep! I also really like the serious side to it and the fact that they could lose their farm as it adds a dramatic side to the book. On the whole, it is a really good book and everyone should read it.

  4. This book gives a real atmosphere of farm life. The main characters show great determination and resilience. Although it seems like everything is going downhill, it all works out in the end. An inspiring story, I hope to read more from this author in the future.
    I think the cover lets this book down by appealing to much younger readers. It could have pictured the burning barn or the vandalised theatre and been more dramatic. Apart from that I would recommend it most people – except boys because the central characters are girls and the story is told from a female point of view.
    Helen Peters writes about a situation that could easily happen in real life and that helped me engage with the characters and pity them. The love the father had for his animals was incredible and the risks that the girls took made the story all the more exciting. Overall, I enjoyed it and am looking forward to hearing what the others think.

  5. This is a well written book with a good plot but I did find that it dragged in places. The cover makes it look like a very girly book so I thought I’d read it first to get it over with. I still think it is aimed at girls but it isn’t as girly as it looks.

  6. I have a farm and I love plays so I really empathised with this story. I think this book will inspire people not to give up or abandon their dreams. I think everyone should read it.

  7. The cover of this book kind of put me off since it makes it seem really girly when in fact it’s not. I thought the plot would be one big cliché: the play would win the competition and everything would be happy ever after but there were lots of twists and the plot went in a completely different direction. I enjoyed it.

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would read it again without question. I especially liked the scenes set in middle school which were very recognisable. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Helen Peters had gone to Newminster! I thought the style of speech was accurate and in keeping with the characters, though the way the father spoke to his children was a bit surprising.
    The author’s note at the end of the book was a brilliant addition to an amazing story because it made me think about the author’s life. It was interesting to discover that she had been brought up on a farm and that the play in the book was a play she had written with a friend. I’d recommend this story to anyone aged 12 and under.

  9. I do agree that the cover looks a bit girly but the story’s exciting and not girly at all. It had quite a slow start but after the fire it was really gripping. Just when the story seemed predictable, things didn’t turn out quite the way I thought they would and the ending was very satisfying. I do hope there’s going to be another one.

  10. I thought this book was really interesting because there were a lot of dilemmas and mysteries which the characters had to solve like detectives. I got a bit muddled with the characters at the start because random names kept popping up in a sentence and I didn’t know who they were or how they related to the main character. Once I got into the book, I really enjoyed it.

  11. I enjoyed this book because the plot was good, I could picture everything in my head and I understood everything that was happening. It was annoying at the end when I thought there was more to read but there wasn’t!

  12. This is a fantastic book about a girl with a big idea. The plot twists and turns and you aren’t sure who to trust. At first we think that Danny and Jack are good but are they….?
    My favourite character is Hannah as she is so brave and independent

  13. I really liked it! I couldn’t put it down! My only criticism is that I still don’t know why Martha is so horrible.

  14. I thought this had a slow start and the pace really didn’t pick up. I also found Martha hard to believe in. She was unnecessarily mean considering the situation the family was in. She knew Hannah wanted a theatre and it wouldn’t have hurt her to help. I didn’t really enjoy this book.

  15. I loved this book, it was really good. It was exciting, there wasn’t a boring bit and I loved the plot. It was very realistic and I could easily picture the settings in my head. The only thing that disappointed me was that the people were not described too well so I couldn’t picture them, but it was still a really good book and I enjoyed it very much.

  16. I like this book because sometimes it makes you think is their dad going to catch them doing the play and there are funny parts as well.

  17. I thought this was a very easy and engaging read and I finished it in two days!
    I definitely felt a connection with Hannah and found myself rooting for her. I would have liked to understand more about why Hannah’s father was so distant with the children after his wife died and I found myself doubting some of the decisions made by some of the central characters but overall I enjoyed reading this book.

  18. I thought this book was quite good considering that the main character was a girl and I wasn’t keen on reading it.

  19. This is definitely not a book I would have chosen and I thought the cover made it look a lot more girly than it proved to be. However, I did enjoy quite a lot of it despite the slow start and I felt like I got to know the characters. Overall, this book was better than I expected because it had action, excitement and humour but, in my opinion, the cover really let it down.

  20. This book was a lot better than I was expecting it to be from the cover. The characters were brought to life well. In some places I wanted to hug them and in others I felt like punching them – especially that brat, Martha! I found the plot twists predictable but not all the outcomes and that helped keep my interest.

  21. I liked this book because it had quite a lot of tension and cliff hangers especially when Hannah’s plans to make money to save the farm don’t work out.

  22. I found this to be quite a readable book but not one I would have chosen or one I would read again because the storyline was rather simple. I would have preferred a more complicate and confusing plot.

  23. I really loved this book: it was exciting and very enjoyable and gave an insight into life on a farm. However, the character of Martha bothered me. She seemed unnecessarily and consistently mean and there wasn’t an obvious reason.

  24. Hannah lives on a farm with her dad, sister and brother but it isn’t profitable and paying the rent is getting harder and harder. Hannah comes up with a series of plans to save the farm, the first being to win a competition – but she needs a theatre.
    Despite first impressions, this book was extremely enjoyable! I really liked the characters and thought they slotted into the story perfectly and although the basic story was fairly predictable, I still enjoyed the complications. I had the ending all worked out but I was wrong: it was believable, realistic and rather nice in the best sense of the word.
    Surprisingly this rather unpromising book turned out to be a real page turner. It made me want to hop inside and help out at the farm, it really did!

  25. This is just the sort of book I would have picked up and I found it hard to put down. I liked it’s unpredictability like when I was sure the candlesticks were valuable and would save the farm, but they weren’t. I like the simple but realistic adventures of finding the henhouse and moving everything into it in secret. Overall, I found this book was really good.

  26. This book was funny because they kept on hiding and not getting found. It was interesting to read. I thought this book would be not for me by the cover but when I got started it really got me stuck in to see what going to happen next so now I am not going to judge it by the cover. I think it was one of the easiest book to understand which means it is good for young kids. I could read this book again because it was fun and gives you a picture of the situation and what you could do if it was you in the book.

Comments are closed.