Thursday, April 18, 2013

April Bookworms Meeting - The Humming Room by Ellen Potter

This past Thursday we had our fourth meeting of the 4th & 5th grade book club - The BOOKWORMS - at our library. For the April meeting, the kids chose to read THE HUMMING ROOM. It is a modern day retelling of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden.

Book Description
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.

I really enjoyed this retelling and both the girls and our boy participant enjoyed it, as well. One had even read The Secret Garden before so she understood the parallels the author made in this new version.  We had a lot of fun talking about family relationships, friendships, and the start of what could become romance. (They made laugh, claiming I was turning the whole book into a soap opera...LOL)  

To start the program, we again did our trivia contest, with a blowpop to the winner and some consolatory tootsie rolls to the "non-winners." Then I had a list of discussion questions that we talked about. Here are a couple quick examples:

*What do you think Roo thinks of herself in the beginning of the story? Does her opinion change over time?

*How are Roo and her uncle alike? What about Roo and Phillip?

*Why does Phillip dislike Jack at first? How do his feelings change?

I'm always amazed at how intuitive these kids can be about certain topics. They even picked up on some things that I may have missed, partially because I am an adult reader, rather than a child... I love hearing their perspectives and getting to facilitate their discussions!

We finished out our meeting by decorating some bio-degradable "jiffy pots." 

 I also gave them seeds that they could go home and plant in their pots, so they could add to their own gardens. It was a fun time and perfectly timed for one of our spring meetings, too! 

Next Month: PRAIRIE EVERS by Ellen Airgood 


  1. I don't run our book club for the younger kids but this book sounds great. I'm going to suggest it to the other librarian that I work with.

  2. I would have LOVED to be a member of the Bookworms when I was a kid! I'm so glad you all enjoyed my book, and the activities sound like so much fun.