Hana Tooke’s debut is a fun gothic adventure with the most wonderfully imagined cast of characters around the wintry and foreboding streets of 19th century Amsterdam.
Milou and her friends have only ever known life at the Little Tulip Orphanage. For twelve long years they have carried out back breaking chores, worked their fingers to the bone and survived on watery cabbage soup, all under the watchful eye of Matron Gassbeek. Milou holds onto the hope that one day her parents will come back for her. What else would explain the strange possessions that she was abandoned with?
When a menacing gentleman arrives at the orphanage looking for children to adopt, Milou knows that she and her friends cannot stay any longer. If Milou wants the chance to find her real parents then she, Sam, Lotta, Fenna and Egg need to run away. But to where? And when Milou gets there will she be ready for the answers that she so desperately craves…
Set in old-world Amsterdam, The Unadoptables is an exciting and un-ordinary read about a ragtag bunch of orphans on a wild and eventful search for family truths. In a warm-hearted and adventurous story, the least adoptable children in the Little Tulip Orphanage follow a curious set of clues - the few possessions that Milou was left with on the night she was abandoned - as they try to unravel a mystery that will lead them to the countryside and a run-down windmill that is far from welcoming.
Five children abandoned as babies and growing-up in an orphanage for twelve years could easily manifest into a story full of grief, sorrow and self-pity but there is so much hope, spark and promise. Buoyed on by the tight bonds of friendship and with the threat of being forced to work on a ship or being returned to the care of the authorities, the quintet are determined to make a new life for themselves whatever the consequences.
Ever hopeful that uncovering the secrets of their past will lead to a better future, the group are loyal to a fault, trust each other with their lives, take extraordinary risks and show enormous compassion to the circumstances of one another. Family and friendship sparkle in this high stakes game of cat-and-mouse. The creative bunch, each with their own strengths and talents, need every ounce of their ingenuity, guile and steely resolve as they escape a horrid matron, outwit an evil merchant, trick their new neighbours and stay out of the clutches out of the authorities.
Interspersed with entires from Milou’s insightful ‘Book of Theories’ and featuring Ayesha L. Rubio’s stylish pencil illustrations at the start of each chapter, The Unadoptables is perfect for curling up with on a cold winter’s night.
Recommended for 9+.