The Humming Room

The Humming Room

4.5 47
by Ellen Potter
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

This tale full of unusual characters and mysterious secrets is a story that only Ellen Potter could write.

The Humming Room was inspired by The Secret Garden, a classic that Ellen Potter has reread every year of her adult life. See how these two works complement each other with this special e-book bonus – the entire text of Frances Hodgson Burnett's original novel. Just keep reading.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a resonant novel inspired by The Secret Garden, Potter (The Kneebone Boy) pays graceful tribute to the spirit of that classic. The author borrows plot elements effectively, yet her strong characterizations, fluid dialogue, and evocative descriptions give the novel a vibrant life of its own. After Roo’s drug dealer father is killed, the 12-year-old girl goes to live with her aloof, widowed uncle in a rambling former tuberculosis sanitarium on the island of Cough Rock in the St. Lawrence River. Roo is a loner who hides to avoid others and often puts her ear to the soil, listening to the sounds of life underground. Other noises—mysterious humming and crying—lead Roo to twin discoveries: Emmett, a cousin she didn’t know existed, and a domed, dried-up garden in a remote part of the house. Potter lavishes attention on the gothic island setting and Roo’s uncle’s estate; it’s a thrilling ghost story, but one that, like the story it’s drawn from, has love and rebirth at its heart. Ages 9–12. Agent: Alice Tasman, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. (Feb.)
From the Publisher

“Fans of the classic [The Secret Garden] will delight in the similarities and differences.” —School Library Journal

“Ms. Potter revives the story [of The Secret Garden] with such grace and sensitivity.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Potter excels in creating quirky yet sympathetic characters with richly allusive connections to classic children's literature...” —BCCB

“This noteworthy novel stands wholly on its own, as Potter, with classic and contemporary storytelling flair, deftly interweaves fantasy, mystery, suspense, and realism. Beautifully wrought, eloquent prose combines with vivid setting details and diversely-drawn characters to affectingly portray themes of loneliness and grief. Roo is a memorable character--her experiences prove transformative in unexpected ways and, ultimately, her complexities and growth ring true. Poignant without sentimentality, this is a compelling read that is certain to resonate--and linger--with young readers.” —Booklist, starred review

“Potter intentionally evokes the [Secret Garden], capturing its bittersweet emotions and fey qualities. But it is not a clone in modern dress. The author has created a fresh tale with a strong-willed heroine. . . . . An homage to a cherished classic that can work as a companion piece or stand alone as a solid, modern tale for young readers in the 21st century.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Potter lavishes attention on the gothic island setting and Roo's uncle's estate; it's a thrilling ghost story, but one that, like the story it's drawn from, has love and rebirth at its heart.” —Publisher's Weekly, starred review

“After the violent death of her drug dealer parents, Roo Fanshaw is sent to live with her wealthy and eccentric uncle on the remote Cough Rock Island in upstate New York. At first her new home seems strange compared to her life full of instability and neglect, and does nothing to lessen her instinct to hide. Small, quiet, and stubborn, Roo prefers to listen to the earth and would rather hide in caves than be around people. But slowly she grows attached to the offbeat characters that make up her new world. Secrets surround Cough Rock Island and the Fanshaw family, giving Roo a mystery to investigate. Her discovery of a garden, a friend, and a cousin draws Roo out of her shell and she ends up flourishing in her new surroundings. A novel closely inspired by The Secret Garden, Potter, who wrote The Kneebone Boy, once again produces a smart, thoughtful, and captivating story. Though a modern tale this tribute to the classic still has a timeless feel.” —Emily Griffin, Children's Literature

Children's Literature - Emily Griffin
After the violent death of her drug dealer parents, Roo Fanshaw is sent to live with her wealthy and eccentric uncle on the remote Cough Rock Island in upstate New York. At first her new home seems strange compared to her life full of instability and neglect, and does nothing to lessen her instinct to hide. Small, quiet, and stubborn, Roo prefers to listen to the earth and would rather hide in caves than be around people. But slowly she grows attached to the offbeat characters that make up her new world. Secrets surround Cough Rock Island and the Fanshaw family, giving Roo a mystery to investigate. Her discovery of a garden, a friend, and a cousin draws Roo out of her shell and she ends up flourishing in her new surroundings. A novel closely inspired by The Secret Garden, Potter, who wrote The Kneebone Boy, once again produces a smart, thoughtful, and captivating story. Though a modern tale this tribute to the classic still has a timeless feel. Reviewer: Emily Griffin
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Roo, 12, witnesses her parents' murder and survives by hiding beneath the family's trailer home. A rather unlikable child, she's a thief and she bites. She is put in foster care, where she is teased mercilessly by the other children, until a relative can be found. Then a previously unknown uncle turns up. He is wealthy and reclusive and lives on an island. He travels a great deal, so he sends his assistant to fetch Roo. On the train ride to Maine, Ms. Valentine lays down the rules about Roo's new house, and the child immediately sets about breaking every one of them. She discovers a secret box underneath some floorboards. She hears a mysterious humming noise. She notices that a good portion of the home, which used to be a sanatorium for children, is boarded up. And, she wonders about a mysterious, homeless boy she notices on a nearby island. Soon, she's noticing other mysteries and inconsistencies and makes a big discovery, which she keeps a secret. Sound vaguely familiar? The cover states that the book was inspired by The Secret Garden. It so parallels its predecessor that it's really a modernized retelling that works on many levels—but not on others. It's shorter and more streamlined and quite suspenseful. Yet, could a child be so easily hidden away nowadays? Fans of the classic will delight in the similarities and differences. Readers who might be intimidated by the original will find Potter's telling more accessible.—Brenda Kahn, Tenakill Middle School, Closer, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
A young orphan finds herself in a remote mansion that hides many secrets. Roo's childhood has been traumatic; she is ill-fed, ill-clothed and too small for her age. She spends much of her time hiding in cavelike spaces, with her ear to the ground listening intensely to the movements within the Earth. When her drug-dealing parents are killed, she is sent to live with an uncle on an isolated island--Cough Rock--in the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York. The local inhabitants are earthy and superstitious and seem to hark back to an earlier time. Her uncle stays away for months at a time. A newly discovered cousin screams and cries and rarely leaves his room. There is also a mysterious, long-neglected garden that calls to her. The characters and events are nearly exact counterparts to those found in the classic The Secret Garden. Potter intentionally evokes the earlier work, capturing its bittersweet emotions and fey qualities. But it is not a clone in modern dress. The author has created a fresh tale with a strong-willed heroine. Though Jack is no Dickon, Roo might be more likable than Mary Lennox. An homage to a cherished classic that can work as a companion piece or stand alone as a solid, modern tale for young readers in the 21st century. (Fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466802759
Publisher:
Feiwel & Friends
Publication date:
02/28/2012
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
230,711
File size:
649 KB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Ellen Potter is the author of The Kneebone Boy, also published by Feiwel and Friends, and praised as "a quirky charmer" by Kirkus in a starred review. Her other novels include, Slob, a Junior Library Guild selection, and the bestselling Olivia Kidney series. She lives in Upstate New York.


Ellen Potter is the author of books including The Kneebone Boy, Slob, Pish Posh, and Olivia Kidney. With Anne Mazer she is also the author of Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook. Potter grew up in a high-rise apartment building in New York City’s Upper West Side, where she exercised her early creativity by making up stories about the neighbors she saw on the elevator. When she was 11 years old, she realized all the best books were written for people her age, and so she decided to become a children’s book author. She studied creative writing at Binghamton University, and then worked many different jobs while continuing to write. She was a dog groomer, construction worker, art teacher, and waitress. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, son and a motley assortment of badly behaved animals.

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The Humming Room 4.5 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 47 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was expecting a 300+ page book o the humming room but instead they give you 127 pages of the humming room and then the last 200 some pages is the secret garden!!!! The humming room was a really good book i just wish it was longer and that they mentioned it was only 127 pages and the rest was the secret garden. This is just a heads up. If you get the book its great but dont expect all 300+ pages to be the humming room. Because its not. It 2 books in one.
thewanderingjew More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent mystery for middle grade children, boys and girls alike. It is a mystery, quite tense and scary at times, filled with all the excitement of a ghost story on a lonely island. It is a story of friendship, of loss and renewal, of coming of age, of the beginnings of romance. It is a story of healing. There is magic and fantasy and sadness and joy. It is a lovely little book. Roo is the star. She lives a sad little life in a trailer with her dad and his girlfriend. When they are murdered she is shipped off to a foster home and then to an uncle who lives on a remote, lonely island on the St. Lawrence River, Cough Rock, to live in a forbidding-looking mansion, formerly a children’s hospital, thus its name. It was sanitarium for children with TB. There she discovers family secrets, hidden rooms with a hidden cousin, abandoned rooms with hidden treasures, a ring from a former patient, and secret passages, tunnels to basements and hidden gardens, and then, she discovers the Faigne, what some people think is a mythical boy who lives on the river, but he turns out to be quite real to Roo. Her uncle is cold and distant, mourns the loss of his wife by rejecting everyone. She discovers her cousin, living in a remote room of the mansion, prone to fits, mourning the far too premature loss of his mother and a father who rejects him. Violet, a young, happy governess and all purpose helper, cook, etc. and Ms Valentine, a stern, not very warm assistant to her uncle, keep the house running smoothly, preparing meals and caring for all of them. In their own way, they try to bring order to the house, the rumors, the madness and loneliness that surrounds the family. Roo is a loner; she doesn’t much like people. She is small for her age, fits into tiny places and loves to hide away in secret spots. She loves living things and can hear the sound of the earth…the humming of things growing. She is stubborn, brave and reckless at times. She can do mean things, without understanding the consequences, or without caring, because she doesn’t feel cared for by others. She likes to steal because she has so little of her own. She likes to make things grow, so she planted glass animals and plants and snakes under the trailer in which she lived with her dad and his girlfriend, before their murder. Her neighbor would leave things out for her to take, when she looked away, because she understood that Roo would not accept anything from her. Roo rejects people because they reject her, due to her strangeness, poverty and belligerence. The characters are interesting and well developed. Roo Fanshaw never knew her mom. Her uncle is the double of her father. The Faigne, Jack, seems to have no home or relatives. Phillip, her cousin, mourns the loss of his mother and feels her presence in the house. He is subject to fits and tantrums. He is wasting away from neglect. He pines for his mother and his absent father. Roo rescues Phillip from his madness, befriends the faigne, Jack, tames her uncle and brings love back into the mansion. This is a wonderful little book, based on "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I red this book luvd it!!! But the athor shoulda made the ending better!!! The ending feels unfinished!!
wordforteens More than 1 year ago
Every now and then I pick up a middle grade book. I haven't been blown away by any in a long time. (It's hard when my basis for middle grade comparison is Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl and Erin Hunter's Warriors series.) But they're nice when I want a short, quick romp through a book. The Humming Room provided just that; full of interesting characters and a fun setting, it managed to distract me for the quick hour it took to read. (At 182 pages, it's not very long.) It was cute and fun and, really, everything it should have been. I did have problems with Roo's character at the beginning, only because she licks a glass snake and I couldn't think of anybody really who did that and it seemed kind of out of character for Roo because she may have been wild but she was also smart and smart people just don't go around licking things, ya know? But besides that one moment, I really liked her and her adoration of nature. The other characters were interesting and fun, I suppose; I didn't really have any sort of fondness for any of them outside of Roo and, perhaps, Jack. (You'll find out who he is if you read it. Spoiler free!)
Buried-in-Books More than 1 year ago
First I'd like to say that though it says this novel was inspired by The Secret Garden, I thought I was reading a Middle Grade version of Jane Eyre. Yes, there were a lot of differences, but the gothic setting, the hidden room, the crying, the secret rooms. It all reminded me of Jane Eyre. But despite all that, I have to say, I loved Roo Fanshaw! This is a kid that has been through it all. She was hiding under her trailer, playing with the glass garden she had planted under there while the policemen are asking questions about the murder of her parents. Roo is strong. She compartmentalizes the pain and shuts it away. Save it for a day she can deal with it. She takes all the new experiences in stride . I never felt sorry for her, she just wouldn't let me. She was so inquisitive and didn't follow the rules. I loved everything about her from the way she hid in a little cave watching the water and learning the earth, to the way she explored the house when she was told not to. She could listen to the earth and hear things growing. She is one of my favorite protagonists in contemporary literature. The other characters, and I'll only name a few, the nasty Ms. Valentine, the always cheerful and permissive Violet, the elusive, but loyal and educational Jack and the never present Uncle. All of them add a lot to the story and make for an adventurous time. The story is laid out with great suspense and detail, but not too much. It's well thought out and enjoyable. The writing is easy to read and feel and there is a great feeling of what's going to happen next and I couldn't stop reading it until I finished it. Yes, it's like the Secret Garden and Jane Eyre and Roo is going to forever be in my heart for her bravery and her unwillingness to give up even in the face of insurmountable odds. I honestly don't know if this is a Middle Grade book or a YA book but it would be fine for either. It's light on the romance and big on the mystery. But the main characters are 14 or so I'm not sure if that makes it YA or not. I didn't think it was that close to the Secret Garden. There were a lot of mysteries to be discovered other than the Secret Garden. I highly recommend this one! I received an ARC of this from the publisher through NetGalley. I was in no way compensated for my review. This is one I will be buying for my shelf to keep to read again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thrilling with excitment with roo fanshaw
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have not read this book but by just reading reviews and the summary, I give it the fate of a very good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was very interesting, charming, witty, as well as all of the characters in it. Overall this is a book that I would go back and read again. I think it would be best for kids 9-13.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As I opened the book my heart began to race. I read the first page and breathed in the beautiful fragrance of the story. It felt good to read it, and I loved the sense of mystery and fear that I got from reading the book. Fantasy and fear await you as you enter Roo's world of mystery and legends that turn out to be true. Most importantly, Roo unlocks the door to great potential and friendship buried deep down in her heart that was unexplored for a very long time. In conclusion, I greatly recommend to anyone. After reading this book, Ellen Potter was one of my favorite authors. And, since I want to be an author when I'm older, this book has the perfect tone and voice that I can appreciate and hopefully be able to learn from in my stories. -M. Ganesan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this story inspired by The Secret Garden. I wish it was longer and had not ended so abruptly. As I read I could see the inspirations of Mary Lenox. The Secret Garden is a long standing favorite of mine. I think The Humming Room is going on that cherished list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE make another book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book for anyone that loves a sad,happy,and funny adventure
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
They had this at my school book fair and i just got it! I havent read it yet but it loits kond of creepy!okes really good. I love the cover art in color!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought it was longer but only 127 pages of the humming room.... no ghosts.... no scariness..... no nothing. And 200+ pages of the secret garden which i already have. Good book but just wasnt satistfying.
Anonymous 11 days ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book REEKS of The Secret Garden. There are too many similarities between the books, and I KNOW it says it was inspired by The Secret Garden, but WHY CANT ELLEN POTTER WRITE HER OWN STORY INSTEAD OF COPYING OFF SOMEONE ELSES? What I hate more than anything else in the world (except war, death, bullies and ketchup) is an author who cant write. The summary says "This is a story only Ellen Potter could write." But this was a story written YEARS AND YEARS AGO!! Plus, Potter has only written one book: THIS ONE!!! How are we to know if this is a book only she can write if she hasnt written any others? It sounds like Ellen Potter wants to make herself famous, and shes seriously failing. But there are good parts of the story too. I love the character of Roo, how she is highly intelligent and utterly independent, she's stubborn but that should be expected (spoiler alert: her dad and his girlfriend were drug dealers!) Roo doesnt trust anyone, and why should she? Her parents (I call them "parents" because thats easier than "her dad and his girlfriend") were abusive and horrible to each other. Jolie (girlfriend) has a TONGUE STUD!!! WHO GETS A BLUBERSCHNUGETTY TONGUE STUD??? (bluberschnugetty is prounounced "bloo-ber-shnu-get-tee" by the way. Bluberschnuget is pronounced "bloo-ber-shnu-get.") This has been a review by Authoress. Any views of Authoress are what she thinks personally and Authoress means no offense to those in opposition to Authoress' views. (Say that ten times fast!) :) :) :) 0=====[]=============>
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is mysterious and spooky. There is so many twists and turns. I don't want to be a spoiler but here's the thing Roo's dad and his girlfriend die and Roo could care less so she hides under her trailer where she won't get caught but the nieghboor told the sheriff were she was and got caught...... i wish i could tell you more but then there is no point to read the book i promise you will love the book and if you have good taste in books even there romantic books you will like this book. By:Anonymous
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so amazing that girl she was strong she had a very sad life I dont think I would be abel to be like her in that tipe of situation
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