Author: Katherine Rundell
Narrator: Nicola Barber
Released: September 24th 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Lenght: 5 hrs and 52 min
Source: Publisher for review
Embrace possibility in this luminous novel about a girl in search of her past who discovers a secret rooftop world in Paris.Everyone thinks that Sophie is an orphan. True, there were no other recorded female survivors from the shipwreck that 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 “almost impossible” means “still possible.” And 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 hidden spaces above the city. Together they scour the city in a search for Sophie’s mother—but can they find her before Sophie is caught and sent back to London? Or, more importantly, before she loses hope?Phillip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials series, calls Rooftoppers“the work of a writer with an utterly distinctive voice and a wild imagination.”
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell has the quality and the warmth of a children’s classic. It is a gorgeous story about a little girl in search of her mother. There aren’t many stories like this, not anymore, and as a parent, I’m extremely grateful when I discover one to share with my daughter.
By far the best part of this book is Sophie’s relationship with her foster father, Charles. Charles always encouraged Sophie’s peculiarities and never tried to fit her into a mould. His only method of upbringing was to love Sophie as much as possible – everything else was to work itself out. Parents can learn a lot from Charles; oftentimes we try too hard and focus on all the wrong things, and in the process, we neglect what’s most important. Sophie ate from book covers because she tended to break plates; she never brushed her hair, allowing it to become a tangled mess; she wore trousers sewn by Charles when girls were expected to wear pretty dresses, and she was homeschooled, mostly on Shakespeare. But she was the happiest child, free to become the person she was meant to.
"I know these sorts of people. They are not men. They are mustaches with idiots attached."
Rundell’s writing is a thing of beauty, smooth and elegant, easy and utterly charming. She created a wonderful and magical story, practically flawless, full of love and unconventional beauty. It is almost impossible to describe why this book feels so much like a classic, but it does. Books like Rooftoppers are extremely rare and I’m eager to share it with the people I love.
"Sophie," said Charles, "knows all the capitals of all the countries of the world." Sophie, standing in the doorway, whispered, "Almost." "She knows how to read, and how to draw. She knows the difference between a tortoise and a turtle. She knows one tree from another, and how to climb them. Only this morning she was telling me what is the collective noun for toads." "A knot," said Sophie. "It's a knot of toads."
Nicola Barber handled the narration extremely well. Her characterization is excellent and her voice laced with humor in a way that can keep the attention of smaller kids. Sophie’s naiveté and sweetness were evident in her speech and she even pulled off a decent French accent when it was needed. Judging from my daughter’s severe lack of patience, I can’t see younger kids sitting through 6 hours of audio at home, but if you’re planning a longer road trip with your children, I strongly recommend this book as an excellent way to make the time go faster. Both you and your children will gain a lot from it.
This is a book children and adults both can read and reread several times. I know I would have, as a child, and I probably will now. I can’t wait to share it with my daughter. Do yourselves a favor and give this wonderful book a chance.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.