Rooftoppers was the first book I ever read by Katherine Rundell and I have since re-read it on more than one occasion. It is one of my favourite reads for children of 10+.
Charles Maxim rescued Sophie from the English Channel following a shipwreck. Quite remarkably he found her floating in a cello case. Charles is a scholar, a gentleman of fine standing who indulges himself in Shakespeare and poetry. He has little experience of looking after a child, especially one so young. But despite this, he thrusts himself into fatherhood with gusto and he and Sophie are soon having all manner of fun and enjoyment. However, the authorities have some ‘issues’ with Charles’ rather unique approach to parenting and a letter makes it official that Sophie will be taken into the care of the state.
Sophie has always believed that her mother never died in the shipwreck and as she has grown-up she has become even more convinced that her mother is still alive. With the threat of being separated from Charles looming, she finds the most timely of clues hidden beneath the fabric of the cello case. And so begins a journey to Paris with only an address and the words, “You should never ignore a possible.”
This is a thrilling adventure from the streets of London to the rooftops of Paris and is a book that I can read time and time again. Rundell draws you in from the first page and I immediately fell in love with her wonderfully written prose. What Rundell writes warms the heart and sings to the soul. She immerses you into Sophie’s world, so much so that I fully believed I was experiencing everything that Sophie was - the highs and the lows, the hopes and the heart-break.
Sophie and Charles are a wonderful duo. Even though they are not related by blood the love that they have for another just oozes from the page. Importantly, Charles has taught Sophie that she should never ignore a possible, no matter how small that possible may be. It is this belief that sees them in the French capital Paris where they begin to conduct their own investigations into what happened on the night of the shipwreck. And with police officials remaining tight-lipped they soon get the feeling that something is not right.
Along with Charles, Sophie also has the help of the mysterious Matteo who lives on the Parisian rooftops and introduces Sophie to a whole new world. It is the rooftop adventures that the two share together that really stand out for me. Rundell brings alive the rooftops of Paris, so much so that I could feel myself leaping from one building to another, walking tightropes and eating breads and meat around the fire. Despite not knowing each other the two become somewhat friends and what transpires are the extraordinary lengths that a child will go to to help someone he barely knows.
There are many memorable lines from the read and I spent plenty of time scribbling different ones down but my favourite has to be the wise words of Charles Maxim, “Books crow-bar the world open for you.”
In Rooftoppers, Katherine Rundell has opened up the world of the Parisian rooftops in the most wonderful of adventures. Unputdownable.
Recommended for 10+.