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Rooftoppers Paperback – 7 Mar 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 173 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (7 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571280595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571280599
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


A writer with an utterly distinctive voice and a wild imagination (Philip Pullman 2013-01-18)

I enjoyed it tremendously... An ultra stylish writer with a true gift for imaginative storytelling. The next time I go to Paris I will be looking up at the rooftops. (Jacqueline Wilson)

A rare and remarkable treat, witty and full of original thoughts ... This quirky book advocates curiosity, thoughtfulness, freedom and courage. (Nicolette Jones Sunday Times)

Rooftoppers takes its cue from the French film Amelie. It's set in a not-quite-real, possibly 19th-century world where winsomeness is the order of the day as an orphaned girl searches for her cellist mother among the rooftops of Paris ... dreamy kids will love it (Daily Telegraph)

There is a wistful, old-fashioned charm to Katherine Rundell's second novel: her poetic language and imaginative approach set this book apart from many other adventure stories for this age group. Whimsical, beautifully-written and as carefully balanced as the tightrope Sophie learns to walk, Rooftoppers is a sensitive and emotionally-resonant novel with an uplifting message about the power of hope. (Booktrust)

RecallingThe Invention of Hugo Cabret, the gripping Rooftoppers, is set partly among the feral orphans living in Paris's night sky, and comes recommended by Philip Pullman. (Kate Kellaway Observer)

Charles Maxim brings Sophie up to write on wallpaper and have the occasional nip of whisky ... Rundell writes with a similar disregard for convention - the childcare officer has a voice "like a window slamming shut" - so your children may dare to live dangerously, but at least they'll steer clear of clichés. (Dinah Hall Daily Telegraph)

Love and courage turn out to be two words for the same thing. Sophie learns to value and retain the strangeness she was born with and, in holding on to her child's ability to believe in the extraordinary, to "never ignore a possible". (Guardian 2013-05-18)

A wonderfully told and vividly imagined story of love, hope and friendship (Families Online)

I think it takes a certain kind of writer who can make the ordinary seem extraordinary with a few sentences and capture your imagination and encourage you, if only for a little while, to see the world in a slightly different way than you'd normally do. And Ms Rundell's definitely that kind of writer ... I really hope other people join Sophie for her adventure because it's truly magical. (Wear The Old Coat Blog)

A very enjoyable book (The School Librarian)

A heart-warming story (The Telegraph)

Book Description

Hailed as an instant classic of children's literature, Katherine Rundell's award-winning adventure Rooftoppers takes to the rooftops of Victorian Paris to prove that anything is possible.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I only heard of this when it made one of the major children's award shortlists (update April 2014: it won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize) but I'm very glad I gave it a go, as Rundell has created some wonderfully original and charming characters within a sweet story.

Surviving a shipwreck on her first birthday, Sophie is rescued and taken in by Charles, a single man who lives by his own rules. Growing up happily with his love and care, Sophie never gives up the belief that her mother, who she remembers to be a trouser-wearing, cello-playing musician, survived the shipwreck too. When social services threaten to take her away from Charles, they decide to try and track down Sophie's mother, meeting an interesting young roof-dweller along the way...

Charles and Sophie are adorable, their relationship warm and enviable. The story takes unexpected turns but is a lovely fairy tale with a strong female lead and lots of interest in its Parisian setting, on the roofs, even with a rooftop battle.

Deservedly shortlisted for awards, it's a little gem that should appeal to both genders.
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Format: Paperback
After a tragic shipwreck, a baby girl is discovered floating on the ocean in a cello case. Her rescuer, shabby and kindly academic Charles Maxim, names her Sophie (on account of the fact that after such a dramatic day, 'it might be best to have the most ordinary name available'), and becomes her unlikely guardian. Miss Eliot, the interfering, prim-and-proper official from the National Childcare Agency, does not approve of a single man bringing up a girl-child without help - but reluctantly agrees to let him try, on the condition that she pays regular visits to see how they are getting on.

The upbringing Charles gives Sophie is certainly unconventional - due to Sophie's plate-breaking tendencies, the pair eat off hardback editions of classic books - but also magical. He encourages her to write messages on the wallpaper, to practise playing her cello on the rooftop, and to never ignore life's possibles.

One of those 'possibles' is, of course, Sophie's mother. Records state there were no surviving women from the shipwreck, but Sophie believes that one day she will find her mother again. When the Childcare Agency threatens to remove Sophie from Charles's care, Sophie discovers an important clue as to her mother's whereabouts, and she and Charles escape to Paris to try and find her. Here, Sophie will encounter corrupt officials, a kindly shop-owner, and a world of half-wild children who live hand-to-mouth on the rooftops of the French capital. With time running out, and with the help (and hindrance) of Matteo and the other rooftop children, Sophie and Charles must try and track down Sophie's mother before they are caught by the authorities and brought back to England...

I truly enjoyed this whimsical, quick-paced read.
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Format: Paperback
This is a lovely story, set mostly in Paris, with a quaint, tender atmosphere. The language is beautiful and the images very striking and original. Mouth-watering descriptions of food! It is one of these 'quiet' types of children's books which are such a breath of fresh air in the midst of all these dystopias and post-apocalyptic stories.
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Format: Paperback
I have been reading several children's books a week for fifty years, and professionally for thirty, often for review. I stand by my sense that, whoever the book is aimed at and whatever its subject matter, if has the potential to grab me and hold me and that's what makes me sit up and take notice. This one didn't quite manage to do that, even though, as someone who suffers from terrible vertigo, much of the high-rise stuff was so well- written that I could hardly bear it and my palms were sweaty! It is an old- fashioned book in the best sense, in the manner of I, Coriander and The Thief Lord. Children who've read it in school have adored it, though it's a little too whimsical for my taste. I think, however, that what is missing here is a decent editor. As other reviewers have pointed out, there are grammatical and spelling errors ?
( practise as a noun in an English children's book? Are we wasting our damned time in school, then?) But, more importantly, there are glaring gaps in continuity in the text. The worst of these is when Sophie revisits Matteo on his rooftop with the food. On the first visit, she has to cross a tightrope strung between buildings, clinging to him for balance. The next night, this extraordinary obstacle apparently no longer exists, as she discovers him already on his roof, her journey to get there suddenly irrelevant. This is not the only place where the impression is given of chunks of text having been removed and the gaps not sewn up.
If there's one thing I know, it's that the more incredible your story, the more consistent you must be with your version of reality. This is what makes Diana Wynne Jones, Joan Aiken et al the genii they are and what makes J.K. Rowling so successful. She may have other faults but she would never countenance such an inconsistency. I doubt if it's the writer's fault and I'm shocked that Faber, of all publishers, is so lackadaisical.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The main character is a 12 year old girl named Sophie,who has lost her mother. Sophie is found on a cello case floating out at sea by a man named Charles, who takes her to his house in London and looks after her. Together they run away to Paris in search of her mother. Sophie finds herself on a rooftop in Paris, which is where the story really begins.

I like this book a lot because it was full of exciting adventures and really interesting characters. I think it would be enjoyable to anyone - especially children who like J.K. Rowling.

The book is titled Roof Toppers, and for much of the story Sophie spends her time on the roof tops of Paris. It is here that she makes some friends with other roof toppers including the daring Matteo. Matteo shows her how to live on the roof tops and introduces her to the one person who might be able to find her mother. Along the way they get into a bit of mischeif and one or two risky situations...

My favourite bit was when Sophie first went on to the roof tops because that’s when the story really starts, and you get some breath-taking images of Paris.

In conclusion: full of daring, lots of secrets and I just really enjoyed reading it. I would recommend it to children aged 8 or 9 up to any age.

Amelia Hopewell
Aged 9
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