Summary and book reviews of Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

Rooftoppers

By Katherine Rundell

Rooftoppers
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2013,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: 3 Jun 2014,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

Everyone thinks that Sophie is an orphan. True, there were no other recorded female survivors from the shipwreck that left baby Sophie floating in the English Channel in a cello case, but Sophie remembers seeing her mother wave for help. Her guardian tells her it is almost impossible that her mother is still alive - but "almost impossible" means "still possible." And you should never ignore a possible.

So when the Welfare Agency writes to her guardian, threatening to send Sophie to an orphanage, she takes matters into her own hands and flees to Paris to look for her mother, starting with the only clue she has - the address of the cello maker.

Evading the French authorities, she meets Matteo and his network of rooftoppers - urchins who live in the hidden spaces above the city. Together they scour the city in a search for Sophie's mother - but can they find her before Sophie is caught and sent back to London? Or, more importantly, before she loses hope?

Phillip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials series, calls Rooftoppers "the work of a writer with an utterly distinctive voice and a wild imagination."

1

ON THE MORNING OF ITS FIRST BIRTHDAY, a baby was found floating in a cello case in the middle of the English Channel.

It was the only living thing for miles. Just the baby, and some dining room chairs, and the tip of a ship disappearing into the ocean. There had been music in the dining hall, and it was music so loud and so good that nobody had noticed the water flooding in over the carpet. The violins went on sawing for some time after the screaming had begun. Sometimes the shriek of a passenger would duet with a high C.

The baby was found wrapped for warmth in the musical score of a Beethoven symphony. It had drifted almost a mile from the ship, and was the last to be rescued. The man who lifted it into the rescue boat was a fellow passenger, and a scholar. It is a scholar's job to notice things. He noticed that it was a girl, with hair the color of lightning, and the smile of a shy person.

Think of nighttime with a speaking voice. Or think how moonlight might talk,...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

Rooftoppers reads very much like two separate stories. The London section, while vital to the rest of the book, feels just a bit contrived ... In contrast, the Parisian section is magical in the way that the best fairy tales are - combining elements of the fantastic and the grittily realistic into an irresistible alchemical brew.   (Reviewed by Heather A Phillips).

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Media Reviews
Author Blurb Phillip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials series
Katherine Rundell's Rooftoppers, like her previous novel The Girl Savage, is the work of a writer with an utterly distinctive voice and a wild imagination.

Author Blurb Maryrose Wood, author of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series
Katherine Rundell's Rooftoppers is a confection of lyrical prose. Bold imaginative leaps carry the reader from one Parisian rooftop to the next in this unique and beautifully written tale of a girl in search of the mother whom everyone else believes is dead.

Author Blurb Sharon Creech, Newbery-award winning author of Walk Two Moons
Rooftoppers drew me in immediately and carried me along straight to the end with its original voice and lively story.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The beauty of sky, music, and the belief in 'extraordinary things' triumph in this whimsical and magical tale.

Booklist

Starred Review. A glorious adventure…the story is magic.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Brava! This witty, inventively poetic, fairy-tale–like adventure shimmers with love, magic and music.

The Wall Street Journal

Some stories unfurl with such elegant wit that you feel the author must have been smiling constantly while typing away. Such is the case with Katherine Rundell's Rooftoppers, a sparkling and lovely novel.

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The Cello

cellosCello music plays a pivotal role in Rooftoppers. The cello is a string instrument played with a bow. It has four strings tuned to perfect fifths. It is an octave lower than a viola, and an octave and a fifth lower than a violin. The name "cello" is an abbreviation of the Italian violoncello, which means "little violone".

Antonio Stradivari Andrea Amati, of Cremona, Italy, is one of three people credited with the invention of the cello, and he, without question, added a 4th string to the instrument that existed at the time. His grandson, Niccolò, also a luthier (a stringed instrument maker), taught the world famous violinmaker Antonio Stradivari, who also built cellos. These original cellos were slightly larger than the modern cello. Though he ...

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