Saturday, April 19, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Rooftoppers

The majority of the books I read are from recommendations from friends, online or in real life.

But sometimes it's quite fun to discover a book on your own. To see it sitting with its glorious cover on the library shelf--and think, "I've got to read that."

That's how it happened with me and THE ROOFTOPPERS (Katherine Rundell). I'm guess I'm a bit of a sucker for anything involving musical instruments, even though I'm not that musical myself--I just admire people who are. 

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:
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?

This story has a lot of magic, not the fantasy kind, but the magic of an old-fashioned story with whimsical language, a caring foster parent, an interesting roofhopping orphan, and a spunky main character who never gives up on finding her mother.

I'm not sure I've ever met a parental figure like Charles, who always tells Sophie, "Never ignore a possible."  He encourages Sophie to be herself, allowing her to draw on the walls and eat off books (because she breaks plates). When a worker from Asshat Children's Home is concerned that Sophie does not know about shirt buttons, Charles responds, "...she knows the things that are important."

Favorite quotes (and it's hard to choose only a few):
"I am going to love her. That should be enough if the poetry I've read is anything to go by."

“I know these sorts of people. They're not men. They're mustaches with idiots attached.” 

“It was what her mother had always been. A place to put down her heart. A resting stop to recover her breath. A set of stars and maps.”  

The narrator reminded me of chatty narrators like Lemony Snicket in THE SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS or the narrator of THE INCORRIBLE CHILDREN OF ASHTON PLACE (Maryrose Wood). (Except it's much more hopeful than Lemony Snicket's style.)

If you like France, cellos, and interesting orphans, check it out!

Have you discovered any interesting middle grade books lately?

To check out more Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog.


  1. Oh! This sounds unique and special. And I haven't heard of it, so thank you for sharing about it. I like the way you describe it's magic. :-)

    1. I hope you enjoy it, Barbara! It reminded me of the "magical" type of book I loved as a child.

  2. I can just picture the baby floating in the cello case! This sounds like an interesting read.

    1. Andrea, that's exactly what drew me in--the baby in the cello case. :) Not something you see everyday.

  3. Don't you love those library finds? It feels rather like seeing a rainbow on an otherwise gray day. Savvy (by Ingrid Law) was like that for me. I spotlighted it a couple weeks back, but you should pick it up and give it a try if you haven't already. And thanks for the recommend of Rooftoppers! I've got a great big stack of books I'm reading, but it's going on the list anyway! lol

    1. Suzanne, yes, there's nothing like "finding" a treasure on your own at your library. I do need to read Savvy--from what you had to say about it, I think I'd like it a lot.
      I hope you enjoy Rooftoppers!

  4. Found floating in a cello case? Mustaches with idiots attached? Loving this already!

  5. Yes, this is such a whimsical book and full of fun. Enjoy!

  6. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Jenni! I look forward to getting to know you. This book sounds like just my taste and I love that you discovered it on the library shelf. I always have long lists of books to read but some days I go to the store or the library and browse and pick something and it turns out to be just what I needed at the time. Funny how that happens : )

  7. Ah, thanks for stopping by, Melissa! There's something about seeing a beautiful cover in person--it's magical!