A boy dresses up in a suit and tie and pretends to be grown-up. Or he throws a sheet over his head and pretends to be a monster. Or he puts on a hat - a baseball cap, a fireman's hat, a chef's hat - and tries on all of these different professions. These are all good, safe explorations of the possibilities out in the world, of the potential paths for the future.
But what if this pretend is not all good? Or all safe? What if this boy is changing his identity - wearing these different hats, so to speak - to save his very life?
This twist is at the heart of Geraldine McCaughrean's great romp of a novel, The Death-Defying Pepper Roux
. Pepper is supposed to die by his fourteenth birthday. On the night he was born, Pepper's Aunty Mireille received a message from Saint Constance, or so she said, declaring that he would not live past this young age. Pepper...
Beyond the Book
One of the hats that Pepper wears is that of a meat slicer in the Marseille Department Store. There are no cash registers in the store. Instead, whenever a customer pays for something, the money is placed in a canister, which is inserted into a tube, and then the canister is shot by compressed air through a maze of tubing and lands at a cashier's cubicle, where the cashier takes the money, makes change, and sends the canister whizzing back to the customer.
What great fun! Pepper spends much of his time after-hours in the department store, sending canisters sailing overhead through the tubes like little rocket ships. But what are these devices, exactly?
They are, exactly, pneumatic tubes.
Pneumatic tubes are part of a group of tools and instruments called...