The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn
184pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99
Lonely orphan Wonder Quinn lives in the attic of Direleafe Hall with only a gloomy crow for company. Every year she hopes to make a true friend and every year her heart breaks when she doesn’t.
But when a spirited new student, Mabel Clattersham, befriends her in class, Wonder’s dreams seem to be coming true. As the girls grow closer, Wonder discovers her friend has a list of strange wishes: Throw a pie, leap into the sky, break someone’s heart…
What is Mabel’s big secret? Can Wonder protect her heart from being broken all over again?
This is a beautifully written ghost story with a difference. Rather than being scary, this is a gentle ghost who craves a friend and becomes one, celebrating friendship, love, acceptance and belonging while embracing grief as a natural emotion that we all experience. This is a sensitive story, and despite its larger font, illustrations and short chapters, probably more suited to more mature readers who are able to read between the lines as well as along them. The reader is not told that Wonder is a ghost, although there are clues from the get-go that perhaps she is not an ordinary schoolgirl for the astute reader to pick up – that fact that she is watching the girls arrive at school from her perch on the roof yet is unseen and undetected by either the students or the staff is one such indicator. It is also what I would have told my students is a tissue book – be prepared to shed some tears.
Normally, this is not my preferred genre but its evocative title, superb selection of vocabulary and imagery, its sensitivity and its uniqueness kept me engaged till the end. One to look for and put into the hands of just the right reader.