When the Queen Mary, a Victorian liner, sinks, a baby with hair the colour of lightning is found inside a cello case floating on the English Channel. She is discovered by eccentric scholar Charles Maxim, who names her Sophie and takes her into his home, much against the advice of the authorities. While Sophie sometimes eats off an atlas or writes her sums on the wallpaper, she is surrounded by music, words, and love. When the inspectors come, despite the best efforts of Charles and Sophie to tidy and clean the house and make themselves presentable, the authorities conclude that now that she is thirteen Maxim is not a suitable guardian, and Sophie is to be moved to an orphanage where she will be taught to be a proper young lady. In a fit of fury, Sophie destroys the cello case that saved her life, only to find a clue, and away they head over the channel to Paris. On the run from the authorities, Charles and Sophie are mother-hunting. Sophie is convinced her mother survived the sinking of the ship and she’s determined to take risks to find her. Risks that involve a strange boy, Matteo, and a band of wayward children who live above the streets of Paris on rooftops or in treetops, eking out a precarious existence - one that is preferable to the orphanage or workhouse. Can Sophie trust these unusual, secretive children? Will she be courageous enough to face physical danger and determined enough to believe in herself? Katherine Rundell creates magic with her cast of characters and description of place. Sophie is a wild child and determined young woman you warm to immediately: stubborn, intelligent, brave and vulnerable. Matteo is a perfect companion: resourceful, secretive and daring. Charles is an adult who brings the rules, lives by the heart and is loyal to the core. Rundell is an exquisite writer, her pace is spot on, the plot inventive and her language witty. You will find it hard to leave Sophie behind when you close the final page of this adventurous and warm-hearted novel. Fortunately, Rundell has several other titles to her name, the latest has just arrived - The Explorer.
Winner of the Blue Peter Book Award and the Waterstones Children's Book Prize, and shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal.
Already being proclaimed a classic in children's literature and compared to the likes of Roald Dahl and Eva Ibbotson, Katherine Rundell's Rooftoppers merges fantasy and historical fiction with sophisticated lyrical prose and vivid imagery that will delight middle grade readers, tweens, teens, and parents and teachers alike.
Join plucky heroine Sophie, her eccentric guardian Charles, and her intrepid orphan allies on the rooftops of Victorian Paris, as they encounter suspense and adventure that will keep kids of all ages on the edge of their seats right to the heartwarming end.
My mother is still alive, and she is going to come for me one day.
Everyone thinks that Sophie is an orphan. Found floating in a cello case and swaddled in a Beethoven score, she is the only recorded female survivor of a shipwreck on the English Channel. But Sophie remembers seeing her mother wave for help...
Charles, a fellow survivor and an eccentric scholar, finds Sophie and brings her home to his London bachelor flat. Raised in a quirky home filled with music, words and love (though questionable diet), Sophie grows into a free-spirited tomboy with a taste for Shakespeare and the unshakeable belief that anything is possible. And you should never ignore a possible.
So when the child welfare agency in its bureaucratic wisdom threatens to send Sophie to an orphanage, the optimistic girl and her odd guardian flee to Paris on a quest to find her mother, starting with the only clue she has - the address of the cello maker.
Secured in an attic to evade the French authorities, Sophie escapes through the skylight and meets Matteo and his network of rooftoppers - homeless urchins who tightrope walk above the busy streets below, dining on pigeons and snails alongside the gargoyles and bell tower of Notre Dame. Together they set out on an unimaginable adventure, scouring the city for Sophie's mother before she is caught and sent back to London - and most importantly, before she loses hope.
Readers who enjoyed the Lemony Snicket books, Ellen Potter's The Kneebone Boy, Cornelia Funke's The Thief Lord, and Sally Gardner's I, Coriander will want to put Rooftoppers on their "Must Read" list.
Katherine Rundell's beautiful second novel, about a group of urchins living on the rooftops of Victorian Paris, is a lyrical tribute to believing in the impossible.
CILIP Carnegie Medal shortlist 2014
Katherine Rundell was born in 1987 and grew up in Africa and Europe. In 2008 she was elected a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. Her first book,The Girl Savage, was born of her love of Zimbabwe and her own childhood there; her second, Rooftoppers,was inspired by summers working in Paris and by night-time trespassing on the rooftops of All Souls. She is currently working on her doctorate alongisde an adult novel.