Mock Newbery 2022 discussion

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Book of the Month 2013 > June Read- The Humming Room

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message 1: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Jorgensen (sunnie) | 562 comments Mod
Ellen Potter has written some wonderful books. Could this one be Newbery worthy?


message 2: by Tamsyn (new)

Tamsyn | 75 comments I enjoyed this book and the setting (I live in upstate NY and have been to the area where the book takes place), but I am a huge fan of The Secret Garden, and it seemed like a modern re-telling of the same story. I'm an Ellen Potter fan too. I liked it, but not Newbery for me. So far, that goes to Wonder without any other even close.


message 3: by Jess (new)

Jess (jessmonster) | 80 comments It's been a little while since I read this one, but I think it explicitly says that it was inspired by The Secret Garden. Did that make you like it less, Tamsyn? I'm curious, because that was one of the things that I really liked about it!

I also appreciated how concise it was (when so many kids' books I order for my library are such doorstoppers) and the way the natural world acted as a character in the story, much like in the original. While it was clearly inspired by TSG, it still felt fresh to me.


message 4: by Tamsyn (new)

Tamsyn | 75 comments I knew that it was inspired by The Secret Garden, which is one of the reasons I wanted to read it. And I DID enjoy it, but though I enjoyed the differences, it was too similar for me to be distinguished.


message 5: by Jennifer (last edited Jun 06, 2012 04:00PM) (new)

Jennifer | 49 comments A lot of teachers support the use of "mentor" texts with young writers. To me, this is like the grown-up version of a mentor text. I have to say that at first I was put off with the idea, but when I looked at it through that lens I could see that it was almost like a tribute for this much-loved book from Potter's childhood. But I definitely don't think it's Newbery - worthy!


message 6: by WendyMcP (new)

WendyMcP I agree that Humming Room was a fine little story but not Newbery material. Lacked depth. Not an original idea or a new take. I like my Newbery to wow me.


message 7: by Ann (new)

Ann | 29 comments I enjoyed the book, and particularly liked the magical realism aspects of it. But, like most other responders, I just don't get a Newbery vibe from it.

The book must be considered for its theme, presentation (clarity, accuracy and organization), plot, characters, setting, and style.

Setting I am willing to say was exemplary.I felt a strong sense of place from the book, and want to go visit the river and islands now.

The writing style was good, maybe even very good, but it wasn't amazing.

The plotting was purposefully intended to be a Secret Garden tribute, so those similarities don't count against it, but I also don't think that the tribute did anything substantially new and different with the material, or made me rethink the original, or otherwise wow me with awesomeness. Think about Ella Enchanted. That was also, in some ways, a "tribute" to a story that everyone knows and loves. And yet EE deepened, broadened, and added to the original story. (And yes, it is easier to do that when the original is a short story versus a full novel. But it was the only Newbery tribute example I could think of off the top of my head and the broader point still stands.)

The characters were a mixed bag. I thought Roo was well done, and to some extent her cousin. But Jack was just a magical realism tool and the father, by turns kind (he remembers Roo's clothing) and cold to the point of cruelty felt more like a stock character, his actions serving the plot or the growth of the other characters rather than stemming from a well-developed, complex person.


message 8: by Holly (new)

Holly Mueller (hollymueller) | 25 comments Here's my review from when I read it earlier: This book captivated me right away with the young green-eyed protagonist, Roo Fanshaw. The story starts in Roo's hiding place under her family's trailer in the aftermath of her parents' murder, listening to the earth - one of her favorite pasttimes - and the investigation above her. She soon learns she has a reclusive, rich uncle, and she is sent there after a brief stint as a foster child at the unpleasant Burrow household. Uncle Fanshaw lives on Cough Rock Island in the St. Lawrence Seaway. His sprawling, spooky house used to be a sanitorium for children with tuberculosis. As she explores the house and island, quickly becoming a "River Rat," she discovers a dying garden under a glass dome, a strange, beautiful boy, and a troubled cousin. Potter's story is inspired by The Secret Garden, which is one of my favorite children's books. It certainly is reminiscent of the classic story. This book would be a great read aloud, and I think it could be a Newbery contender. My only criticism is that I wanted it to be longer. I thought there could be more character development of Jack and Phillip, and more time spent in the garden.


message 9: by Genie (last edited Jun 14, 2012 06:41PM) (new)

Genie I did enjoy this, the writing is good and Roo is an interesting character. I particularly liked the setting, and the vivid imagery of the river. However, I thought most of the characters besides Roo fell flat, and the story did not hold up in its promise. Once Roo met Phillip, for me it was so much of a direct retelling of The Secret Garden I was diasappointed. My 11yo son read it straight through, he liked it (and has not read The Secret Garden). He particularly liked Jack, and the use of the heron in the story.


message 10: by Judy (new)

Judy | 11 comments Tamsyn wrote: "I knew that it was inspired by The Secret Garden, which is one of the reasons I wanted to read it. And I DID enjoy it, but though I enjoyed the differences, it was too similar for me to be disting..."

I thoroughly enjoyed it, as well. But I also felt it was a little too similar to be distinguished. And the similarities increased as the story went on so that while the beginning felt very fresh (even though I knew it was based on The Secret Garden) it ended up feeling too predictable. Also, doesn't the Newbery have to be an original idea?


message 11: by Ann (new)

Ann | 29 comments There's no such thing as an original idea, really (which is why copyright law says it is the actual words in a book that are protected not the story concept itself.) It does have to be original work but that's a broader concept. I think this book would be eligible, though I don't think it's really worthy of serious consideration.


message 12: by Megan (new)

Megan (megancginther) | 3 comments Here's my original review of The Humming Room: I enjoyed this book, but it left me wanting something a little more substantial in character development. I wanted to know more about the reclusive father and the son with whom he has little contact. I also wanted to know more about Roo's father (his back story). I do think kids would find this book intriguing. It would be a great comparison study to use with The Secret Garden, which would be a good tie-in for the new Common Core standards.

Overall, an enjoyable book, but not Newbery worthy.


message 13: by Maurynne (new)

Maurynne  Maxwell (em_maxwell) | 6 comments Tamsyn wrote: "I knew that it was inspired by The Secret Garden, which is one of the reasons I wanted to read it. And I DID enjoy it, but though I enjoyed the differences, it was too similar for me to be disting..."

I agree. I did send a copy to my niece, I will have to find out how she compares it to Secret Garden. She's 10.


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