Book Review: Rooftoppers

By Katherine Rundell

Book Description: Everyone tells Sophie that she was orphaned in a shipwreck – found floating in a cello case on the English Channel on her first birthday. But Sophie is convinced her mother also survived. When the Welfare Agency threatens to separate her from her guardian and send her to an orphanage, Sophie takes matters into her own hands, starting with the only clue she has – the address of a cello-maker in Paris. On the run from the authorities, Sophie finds Matteo and his network of rooftoppers – urchins who walk tightropes and live in the sky. In a race across the rooftops of Paris, will they be able to find her mother before it’s too late?

Hopeful, inspiring and thrilling in equal measure, this is a classic adventure story about pursuing your dreams and never ignoring a possible.

I really enjoyed this whimsical heart-warming tale about a girl’s search for her mother. Sophie was fished out of the English Channel by Charles, who when none of the other survivors claimed her, took her home to take care of her. Sophie has never forgotten her mother, goes ‘mother-watching’ every day and waits for the day that her mother will find her.

Charles is devoted to Sophie and does his best to care for her. Their guardian-ward relationship is very sweet. Charles and Sophie scribble notes for each other on the wallpaper, he never buys her ‘suitable clothes’ nor reprimands her when she gets dirty, and her home schooling is unconventional (occurs whenever one of them remembers her lessons, and often takes place on the roof). However Charles’ idiosyncrasies makes him an unsuitable guardian for Sophie in the eyes of the State, particularly as she approaches twelve years of age. But then Sophie discovers a clue that might lead to her mother and the two escape to Paris to follow it.

There Sophie befriends Matteo, a boy who lives on the rooftops of Paris, and together with his friends, Anastasia and Safi (who actually are sky-treaders, ie live in trees rather than rooftops) they search for Sophie’s mother. I loved the image of Sophie sitting on a high Parisienne rooftop, listening intently for the music of a cello that she could track. Of course, it’s not that simple, as there are turf wars (tile wars??) among the roof-toppers, as well as police looking for Charles and Sophie.

Rooftoppers was first published in 2013, and won many awards, so I was delighted to get a chance to read it. If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear what you thought of it.

TOTP is posing above, trying to look like he is on a rooftop rather than the bed!! I haven’t told him it doesn’t work!

20 responses to “Book Review: Rooftoppers”

  1. Lovely review! Katherine Rundell is one of my favourite authors. My now grown up daughter was given a copy of Rooftoppers when it was first published and kept on reading me extracts because she loved the writing so much. I always remember her delight at a sentence where Charles tells the social worker that she is β€œa credit to her optician!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m surprised I’ve never seen this story beforeβ€”it sounds like an excellent read, with a really fascinating and unique plot! I appreciate you bringing it to my attention, Valinoraβ€”thanks so much for the thoughtful review!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I never got a chance to read this one, but it’s so intriguing to think of a entire world above us, happening on the roof tops. Thanks for reminding me about this!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, Valinora!

    I actually bought this book in Paris in The Before Times (2019), and haven’t read it yet. I absolutely loved the description, and your review has inspired me to unearth it from my TBR pile and read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hadn’t heard of her either – a friend recommended the book to me recently :). I will check out her other books when I get a chance! Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚


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