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.
What I really enjoyed about Ellen’s book were the differences between her book and The Secret Garden. In general, Ellen's writing is completely lyrical and, frankly, melodic to read. It gives the entire book a different feel that is unique to Ellen Potter. One difference that stood out to me was that she changed around the setting. I loved how Roo has a completely different house (on an island, no less) to discover. It was fun to read where her explorations led her. I love the idea of old houses with hidden passageways here and there. My favorite part was the addition of the folklore surrounding the island. It was an added element that made the story much more interesting for me. Reading about Jack and about his friendship with Roo was the best part. I wish this part of the story could have been developed more…maybe we need another book, Miss Ellen!
If ever two books were made for practicing text-to-text connections, this is it. Ellen Potter has given teachers a reason to revive their recommendations of The Secret Garden, a classic, well-loved book, and then at the same time to recommend The Humming Room, a new twist on that beloved novel. I have enjoyed looking at how the two books are similar and how they differ and I can see how a student would be up to the same challenge. This would even make a great mother-daughter book club discussion.
"The water looked thick, like an expanse of angry gray muscle.
It shoved at the boat mercilessly, tossing them about, making Roo feel helpless and angry."
"She stood very still for a moment, listening. No, not listening exactly. It was more like sensing.
She tested places in this way. In some places the air felt very full. These places smothered her;
too many people came and went. She preferred the places where the air felt wispy,
where everything passed through lightly and carefully."