Publisher: Faber and Faber
Found floating in a cello case in the middle of the English Channel after a shipwreck on her first birthday, by eccentric young scholar Charles, Sophie seems to be marked out for an unconventional existence. Growing up in Charles's shabby home in England, she learns to love music and to read Shakespeare, but very little about how to be ladylike. On her twelfth birthday, the disapproving authorities intervene, but before they can take her away to an orphanage, the discovery of a chance clue in her cello case makes Charles and Sophie decide to ignore their decrees, and instead run away to Paris in search of Sophie’s long lost-mother, whatever the consequences may be.
Paris presents them with its own difficulties to overcome, but Sophie soon discovers new allies on the rooftops who can help her with her quest. First, there’s Matteo, a boy who walks tightropes and sleeps under a blanket made of pigeon feathers at night, and then there are his friends Anastasia and Safi, two wild girls who live in the top of Paris’s tallest trees. Racing across the rooftops of the city with only an elusive cello melody to follow, and her new friends to help her, Sophie is determined to find her mother before it is too late.
There is a wistful, old-fashioned charm to Katherine Rundell’s second book: her poetic language and imaginative approach set this book apart from many other adventure stories for this age group. Whimsical, beautifully-written and as carefully balanced as the tightrope Sophie learns to walk, Rooftoppers is a sensitive and emotionally-resonant novel with an uplifting message about the power of hope.