Everyone seems resigned to it - even Pepper, although he would much prefer to live. But can you sidestep Fate? Jump sideways into a different life? Naïve and trusting, Pepper sets a course through dangerous waters, inviting disaster and mayhem at every turn, one eye on the sky for fear of angels, one on the magnificent possibilities of being alive.
New York Times bestselling and Printz Award-winning author Geraldine McCaughrean has created a gripping tale filled with dark humor and daring escapades, where the key to a boy's life lies in facing his own death.
Despite its relentless theme of trying to escape death's icy grip, McCaughreans's novel is anything but serious. With slapstick humor and witty asides to the reader, The Death-Defying Pepper Roux is a funny, fast-paced read... Ultimately this is the story of a good-hearted boy who only wants to live, but in the process of trying to do just that he learns that simply living is not enough. Being connected, and loving and being loved, makes the choice to live ever so much richer. (Reviewed by Tamara Smith).
Cleveland Plain Dealer
The novel makes for a challenging read, with SAT words galore and a deep layering of story, but the reward is as marvelous as McCaughrean's lyrical, often funny, writing. As young readers watch Pepper mature, they'll likely feel a change inside, too.
School Library Journal
The question with this book may be one of audience: Will kids understand its subtleties and some of the references, particularly the religious and political ones? But in the hands of the right child, this novel will be savored.
Starred Review. ...[R]eaders will root for Pepper to get the ending he deserves... Ages 10+.
I think it would be quite a demanding read for younger children, or those more used to facile, easy-to-swallow stories. Geraldine McCaughrean is a skilful writer, and she's created a story for children who devour books, who like nothing better than to curl up in an armchair and read until their eyes hurt.
The Guardian (UK)
[This] is a funny, charming and eccentric book.
Book Trust Children's Books
This riotous, whimsical fantasy featuring a quixotic, teenage hero is utterly compelling and, while humour is central to its appeal, a dark and disturbing undercurrent adds depth and meaning.
The London Times
From the opening sentence of this book, you know you are in masterly hands... plot is not the strongest aspect... but for the delightful unexpectedness of the prose, for the dexterous balance between what the reader knows and what the protagonist believes, and for the memorable characters... this is irresistible reading, to enchant all ages. Ages 11+
The Daily Telegraph (UK)
[A] thoughtful hero... Pepper is an utter delight.
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 pneumatic devices, which use compressed air to make something move. The idea of pneumatic tube transport (or capsule pipeline) was invented in 1806 by Phineas Balk, but was only seen as a spectacular invention until the actual capsule was invented in 1836.
The winner of a National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, and countless other awards has written her richest, most spirited book yet, filled with characters that readers will love, and never forget.
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