A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Educational ValueCharles is a scholar, and his life with Sophie is culturally rich. Curious readers may be intrigued by references to Shakespearean plays, Fauré's Requiem in D minor, and landmarks like Notre Dame, and they may pick up some French expressions.
Positive Messages"Never ignore life's possibles," Charles teaches Sophie. Some rules may be bent -- and even broken -- if they stand in the way of fairness. People find happiness and comfort in their own ways, Rooftoppers suggests, even though their choices may befuddle observers.
Positive Role ModelsSophie is resourceful and independent, confident in who she is and loyal to those she loves. She does break into police headquarters to steal a file, but it's to correct an injustice. She's unfailingly polite, even to those who treat her with disrespect. Charles lovingly encourages Sophie's independence and moxie.
Violence & ScarinessMatteo lost a fingertip and earned a scar in a fight. He and Sophie and their friends get into an ugly fight with a gang. Matteo kills small animals such as pigeons and rats for food, and in one scene he's cooking a skinned rat.
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Sophie sometimes says "damn."
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Parents Need to KnowParents need to know that Rooftoppers is a captivating adventure set in turn-of-the-20th-century London and Paris that includes intense violence among children -- one child recounts a battle in which he lost a fingertip and a rival lost an arm, and two groups of kids face off in a vicious fight. The rooftoppers live a gritty existence above the streets. They're presented as admirably resourceful and free, but they aren't glorified. The story really celebrates family, love, and the magic of possibilities. Sophie and her adoptive father, Charles, break some laws but with good reason. Charles appreciates whiskey and pours Sophie a drink when he prepares to share bad news.
Is It Any Good?
ROOFTOPPERS is a captivating read packed with tiny delights. There's an astonishing scene wherein birds are fed atop a tightrope, Charles' dismissal of bureaucrats as "mustaches with idiots attached," ice cream enjoyed in the rain on the outside box of a horse-drawn carriage -- and that's just for starters. Author Katherine Rundell celebrates eccentric, resilient people who are happy to live on the margins of respectable society. Unorthodox people, of course, have unorthodox adventures, and Sophie's is a magical journey.
Rundell's writing is lyrical and clever -- sometimes a little too clever, as the creative metaphors and similes pile up to the point of distraction. But that's just a tiny quibble with this imaginative, soaring tale.
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