The Secret Library of Hummingbird House (Julianne Negri, Affirm Press)
Julianne Negri’s debut middle-grade novel The Secret Library of Hummingbird House is sure to entice young readers with its effervescent premise and hook. It tells the story of Hattie, a young girl navigating the separation of her parents (also known as the Big Split) and the impending demolition of her favourite place: an old three-storey mansion that hums with strangeness. What follows is a time-slip adventure with a contemporary spin. Mulberry-picking, an imaginary eagle and a good portion of yarn bombing are added to the colourful mix of crusade and mystery. Hattie is a loveable narrator and many aspects of her plight will be immediately relatable to the target audience. Negri writes authentically and explores some weighty themes, with plenty of lightness and humour woven through the narrative. This book is perfect for fans of magical realist classics like Playing Beatie Bow and The Secret Garden, while the modern Melbourne setting will feel familiar to local kids. The Secret Library of Hummingbird House takes readers on a journey that involves a hidden library, lost treasure and an unexpected ally. It celebrates standing up for what you believe in and the power of new friendship, with a dramatic climax that will take many by surprise.
Karys McEwen is the library manager at Prahran and Richmond High School and the president of the CBCA VIC Branch