Thursday, 16 January 2014

Rooftoppers - Katherine Rundell

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

Review by M

Rooftoppers has been nominated for the Carnegie 2014 medal.

Rooftoppers is unusual and it is wonderful; the kind of novel that lights you up inside.

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
There’s been a lot of high praise for Rooftoppers but the initial story premise didn’t grab me. I pushed the novel towards the front of my review books mostly because of Katherine Rundell’s tweets. I’m glad I did because the book’s as good and interesting as her twitter account.

A baby girl, Sophie, is orphaned in a shipwreck, and found floating on a cello case at sea. Charles Maxim, an eccentric intellectual takes her in, home educates her and battles with social services who think it inappropriate for a single man to raise a girl.  The thing he teaches her the loudest is never to ignore a possible....and so the story opens up.

In Rooftoppers, Rundell combines social observations and criticisms with the beautifully fantastical in a tone that bears charming wit. The imagery she uses is both funny and enchanting and her characters are wholly endearing and I think Charles Maxim, Sophie’s guardian, will sit alongside Atticus Finch as one of my favourite ‘fathers’ in literature. I found delight in nearly every page (though I did raise an eyebrow at the need to include a fight scene – but hey).

Rooftoppers is perfect for slightly older fans of Pippi Longstocking or Frances Hardinge’s character, Neverfell (A Face Like Glass). It’s full of the elements I love to find in children’s fiction and it’s a book I suspect might get passed along the generations.

Publication details: 2013, Faber, London, paperback
This copy: review copy from the publisher


  1. WOW, you have to be pretty spectacular to rank next to Atticus Finch as a father and now you have me curious about this book and Katherine Rundell's tweets. Thanks for letting us know about this book.

    1. Yes! There are especially interesting comparisons between the two fathers on what they give and expect from girl children and how this differs from the mainstream view in their book's world.


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