Summary and book reviews of The Death-Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean

The Death-Defying Pepper Roux

by Geraldine McCaughrean

The Death-Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean X
The Death-Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean
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    Readers' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    Jan 2010, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2012, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Smith
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About this Book

Book Summary

Pepper's fourteenth birthday is a momentous one.
It's the day he's supposed to die.
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?

Pepper's fourteenth birthday is a momentous one.

It's the day he's supposed to die.

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.

Join him on the run - if you can keep up.

On the morning of his fourteenth birthday, Pepper had been awake for fully two minutes before realizing it was the day he must die. His heart cannoned like a billiard ball off some soft green wall of his innards. This had to be the day everyone had been waiting for - and he was terrified he would disappoint them, make a poor showing, let people down.

His mother's face, when he entered the breakfast room, was ashen. He could not bring himself to meet her big-eyed, tearbrimming gaze, though he felt it follow him to the scrambled eggs and the cold ham. She never kissed him in the mornings. In fact she never kissed him at all. Aunt Mireille had said his parents should not become too fond of'le pauvre', if they were to cope with the grief of losing him.

His name was Paul, but when he was small and people asked him, he told them it was'Pauvre'. After all, it was the name his mother had always used.'Get dressed, mon pauvre. 'Eat up, mon pauvre. 'Say goodbye, pauvre ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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).

Full Review (622 words).

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Media Reviews

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.

TheBookBag.co.uk
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.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. ...[R]eaders will root for Pepper to get the ending he deserves... Ages 10+.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. [A] poignant, odd, wonderfully composed and vastly entertaining novel.

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.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

What the Heck is a Pneumatic Tube?

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 ...

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