Sunday, November 11, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Humming Room

Today’s pick: The Humming Room by Ellen Potter
Feiwel and Friends, An Imprint of Macmillan, 2012

From Amazon:
Hiding is Roo Fanshaw's special skill. Living in a frighteningly unstable family, she often needs to disappear at a moment's notice. When her parents are murdered, it's her special hiding place under the trailer that saves her life.

As it turns out, Roo, much to her surprise, has a wealthy if eccentric uncle, who has agreed to take her into his home on Cough Rock Island. Once a tuberculosis sanitarium for children of the rich, the strange house is teeming with ghost stories and secrets. Roo doesn't believe in ghosts or fairy stories, but what are those eerie noises she keeps hearing? And who is that strange wild boy who lives on the river? People are lying to her, and Roo becomes determined to find the truth.

Despite the best efforts of her uncle's assistants, Roo discovers the house's hidden room--a garden with a tragic secret.

Inspired by The Secret Garden, this tale full of unusual characters and mysterious secrets is a story that only Ellen Potter could write.

My Take:

I didn’t remember that this novel was inspired by The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett when I first began reading it, but I soon saw the similarities as the story got underway. I loved the character of Roo, who seemed determined and spirited, despite the hard circumstances of her own life. The detail about her listening to the earth and the creatures moving within it was fascinating to me and added an interesting element to her character.
I was intrigued by the secret garden, just as I was when reading the original story, although the garden in this one is different and has its own unique story. The island setting was easy to picture and captured my imagination.
As a writer, I found it very interesting to see how the author created a unique middle grade story that has a similar plot to a classic novel. Reading this book inspired me to think about interesting elements that I want to include in one of my own novels.

How I discovered this book:
I read about The Humming Room in a Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post over at Shannon Messenger’s blog and in a book pick post on Marcia Hoehne’s blog (both great blogs to check out if you haven’t already).

Other info:
Ellen Potter lives in Maryland, with her husband and an assortment of pets, but she grew up in New York City. She decided to become a writer when she was 11 and realized that all the best books were written for 11-year-olds.

This book has been named a Junior Library Guild Selection.
In an interview at Ms. Yingling Reads, Ellen Potter says she doesn’t plot out her books in advance. Instead she creates several threads that need to be tied up in the end: “I am alert for ways to connect all these threads in tidily, but I prefer to let the story be guided by the characters.

Other books written by this author include:
Kneebone Boy, 2011
Spilling Ink:  A Young Writer’s Handbook, 2010
Slob, 2009
Olivia Kidney and the Secret Beneath the City, 2007
Pish Posh, 2006
Olivia Kidney and The Exit Academy, 2005
Olivia Kidney, 2004

For more, visit Ellen Potter’s website.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was dreamed up by author Shannon Messenger. Visit her blog for an up-to-date list of all the bloggers who are participating and posting about middle grade books today!


  1. I loved this book, probably partly because The Secret Garden was one of my favorite books growing up. I really need to read it again.

    1. I really liked the way it echoed The Secret Garden but was its own story.

  2. I loved The Secret Garden as a kid. I should check this out (and a zillion other books).

    1. Natalie, I think you'd enjoy this one. It's so perfectly middle grade. But I know what you mean about "so many books, so little time".

  3. Yep, great minds think alike. :) I loved this book, and I was so impressed with Ellen Potter's ability to create a character with a lot of room to grow (like Mary Lennox) yet who completely captured the readers' hearts.

  4. I've seen a couple of reviews of this book now, and I've also read Ellen Potter before, so I'm sure I'd like it. Yet another book to add to my list!

  5. I've had this on my to-read list since it released -- but I still need to read it! Love, love the sound of this one.

  6. "...all the best books were written for 11-year-olds." That's great! And I love hearing that Ellen Potter doesn't plot out her books in advance. As I said on Faith's blog a few minutes ago, The Secret Garden is my all-time favorite book! I really should read this too.

  7. I've been meaning to read this one. Thanks for the reminder.

  8. I love this cover and I definitely want to read this one! The description sounds fabulous! I love The Secret Garden.

  9. Glad you loved it! :)

    And thanks for the link!

  10. One of my favorite reads this year. And Ellen is a favorite authors, so was glad this one didn't disappoint. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Sounds like a book I'd enjoy. And I agree, the best books are written for 11-year-olds!


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