Do you play the cards you’re dealt or reshuffle the deck, hoping for a better deal? In Katherine Rundell’s Rooftoppers a little girl refuses to believe her mother has drowned; her faith, courage, and determination are rewarded as she searches for her mother along the rooftops of Paris.
When a cruise ship sinks in the middle of the English Channel, Charles Maxim, passenger and scholar, rescues a red-haired baby afloat in a cello case. He names her Sophie and fights off the London social workers who would send her to an orphanage. On her twelfth birthday, after Charles is threatened with jail if he does not give Sophie to the authorities, Sophie discovers a plaque with a Parisian address inside the cello case. Convinced her mother is still alive, Sophie and Charles flee to Paris and the adventure begins.
With the help of Matteo and a small band of clever homeless children with street smarts, Sophie roams the rooftops of Paris, listening for the sounds of her mother’s cello and challenging authority . The adventure and the ending are improbable, impractical and wonderful.
Although targeted to middle schoolers, Rundell’s tale has those intelligent asides that adult readers will appreciate. As I read, I noted some of her astute phrases that I hope to use at an appropriate moment:
“I’m afraid, I understand books far more readily than I understand people. Books are so easy to get along with.”
“Money can make people inhuman. It is best to stay away from people who care too much about money, my darling. They are people with shoddy, flimsy brains.”
And, my favorite new word:
“A murmuration. When the sea and wind murmur in time with one other; like people laughing in private…”
Entertaining and clever – Rooftoppers can be enjoyed at any age.