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The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn

By Kate Gordon
Reviewed by Sarah Custance
Kate Gordon is an Australian librarian turned author whose previous works include: Three Things about Daisy Blue, Girl Running, Boy Falling, and Juno Jones: Word Ninja. The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn is one of her latest novels for middle-grade readers and two more are in the pipeline.

Wonder Quinn is an orphan who lives in the attic of the school Direleafe Hall where her only constant companion is Hollowbeak the crow. Every year Wonder is hopeful that she’ll find someone who wants to be her friend and every year she is disappointed. That is until she meets the new student Mabel Clattersham with whom Wonder has an almost instant connection.  Mabel is bright, funny, full of life and mischief and Wonder is in awe of her new friend.

While the two girls are bonding Mabel tells Wonder about a secret list of things that she wants to do such as ‘Steal Something, Leap into the Sky, Throw a Pie, Touch a Star, Break a Heart’ and together they begin to check things off the list. But each girl is hiding a very important secret from the other that just may be the end of their friendship.

This is an interesting book in the fact that it is more existential than any other younger middle-grade novel I have ever read.  I’m not sure I  completely understand the ending and I am curious to know what young readers will make of it. The book has the most beautiful cover image and an interesting premise (though it is quite easy to see what each girl is hiding) that wasn’t quite fulfilled. I also has some issues with the writing style which seemed quite jolting and not as smoothly written as I would have expected from an established author. Despite all of this it is still a sweet little book that a newly independent reader will enjoy reading on their own.

Teacher’s Notes

University of Queensland Press 2020

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