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Review of Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

by - September 23, 2014

Format: Paperback
Genres: Childrens, Historical
Pages: 288
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Release Date: 26/02/2013
Find The Author: Twitter
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Everyone thinks that Sophie is an orphan. True, there were no other recorded female survivors from the shipwreck which left baby Sophie floating in the English Channel in a cello case, but Sophie remembers seeing her mother wave for help. Her guardian tells her it is almost impossible that her mother is still alive, but that means still possible. You should never ignore a possible. So when the Welfare Agency writes to her guardian threatening to send Sophie to an orphanage, she takes matters into her own hands and flees to Paris to look for her mother, starting with the only clue she has - the address of the cello maker. Evading the French authorities, she meets Matteo and his network of rooftoppers - urchins who live in the sky. Together they scour the city for Sophie's mother before she is caught and sent back to London, and most importantly before she loses hope.

I love stories like this, full of dreams and hope in a world where anything is possible. As a baby, Sophie is found by a man called Charles after her ship is wrecked. He raises her the best he can and she grows up to be resourceful and intelligent. Finding themselves in Paris, searching for Sophie's mother, Sophie meets the Rooftoppers, children who have made their home on the roofs of Paris.

A strange thing I noticed about this book's description was the complete lack of mention of Sophie's Guardian coming with Sophie to Paris. Charles is my favourite character in the story, and very important. He knows how to bring up a child, but not in the 'proper' way the government insists on. To avoid them getting separated, as well as trying to grant Sophie's wish, he makes the arrangements to travel to Paris. 

The writing style is just lovely, with an almost musical quality to it. “He was thirty-six years old, and six foot three. He spoke English to people and French to cats, and Latin to the birds. He had once nearly killed himself trying to read and ride a horse at the same time.” is just one example of the many times I laughed out loud.

The introduction of the Rooftoppers really added to the story, and added a lot of suspense too! I was pretty worried about Sophie, scrambling along the Rooftops, trying to keep up with Matteo. They made a great pair though and I almost forgot about Sophie's goal to find her mother.

I've been reading more children's books lately, and this one made me want to read even more. Often young adult books deal with difficult subjects with bittersweet endings, so it was nice to dive into a book where I was almost certain I'd leave with a smile on my face and a great ending for the characters involved, which I did.

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