Monday, January 20, 2014

Rooftoppers, by Katherine Rundell

Rooftoppers sat on my shelf for about two months before I pulled it down to give it a read.  I had heard the murmurs that it was not to be missed, and a few pages in I was kicking myself for leaving on the shelf for so long.

Sophie is plucked out of the sea where she has been bobbing in a cello case after the ship she was presumably traveling on went down.  Her rescuer is bachelor Charles, who lives on his own and is decidedly a cerebral sort of gentleman.  According to the National Childcare Agency, Charles is ill equipped to care for a one year old girl, but he knows he possesses all the love necessary to do right by the child.  The NCA decides to let Charles care for the girl for the time being, and worker Miss Eliot vows to stop by to make sure that all is well.

Sophie's upbringing is by all means unconventional.  She is schooled at home according to what Charles deems important: Shakespeare, geography and the art of whistling.  Sophie, however, cannot stop thinking about the mother she is sure she lost when the ship went down.  Charles has alway told Sophie to "never ignore a possible", and though her memories are improbable, they are not impossible. Sophie is certain her mother is still alive and playing the cello somewhere, and she has a growing desperation regarding finding her.  Her phantom memories of trousers worn at the knee are no longer enough.  Once the NCA decides that a girl of Sophie's age needs alternate guardianship and Sophie finds a long overlooked clue, she and Charles decide not to ignore the possible and head to Paris.

Paris is where the adventure truly begins.  A world Sophie never could have imagined is right above her on the rooftops, and it seems that Charles' upbringing was the perfect thing to prepare Sophie for the next steps of her life.

Katherine Rundell has written what can only be described as a modern classic.  It has the feel of a story that has been around for an age, one that is timeless, but somehow has not been done before.  The turns of phrase are magical without crossing into the realm of purple.  Rooftoppers begs to be read aloud, and deserves a place of honor on bookshelves everywhere.

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