The Farm Beneath the Water by Helen Peters

Published by Nosy Crow (ISBN: 978-0857632616)

Sequel to The Secret Hen House Theatre, the farm is once again under threat and Hannah rises to the challenge of saving her home, this time from a reservoir. 

Hannah is a very strong, believable character who has a fairly unconventional home life, living on the family farm with her eccentric siblings and father. Although more of this book is set in school than the previous one, with auditions for Romeo and Juliet playing a significant role, there are still the lovely chaotic and bizarre family scenes with The Beans and Martha. 

There is a strong environmental theme to the story which also explores how people often don’t connect with an issue unless it directly affects them and how there is often a financial argument for the community to be considered. The scenes where Hannah tries to defend her family’s point of view and the damage the decision will have on the environment are handled very well and would make a good starting point for debate and discussion writing. Much interesting information about wildlife and trees is included in the story as Hannah tries to explain to people the wider implications of her family’s land being flooded; this, however, reads very naturally as part of the story. 

As in the first story, the drama and play elements are handled very well and a real sense of community and team work is developed as the children work together to both put on the performance and act against the water company.

An excellent read, but definitely one for older children.