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Hot Key Book Club Discussion: ROOFTOPPERS by Katherine Rundell

RooftoppersHello everybody!

This month we read Katherine Rundell’s ROOFTOPPERS for our Book Club. It is a book that had been on my radar ever since I first heard about it. It is about a young girl, Sophie, who as a baby is shipwrecked and is found floating in a cello case in the middle of the English Channel. She is taken in by the generous and eccentric Charles who agrees to be her guardian. And together they embark on a search amongst the rooftops of Paris for Sophie’s mother, who Sophie is quite convinced also survived the shipwreck – despite everybody telling her that her mother must be dead.

Well! This book delivered everything I was expecting and more. I was expecting a charm and a quirkiness and was able to revel in both these things, from Charles’s unorthodox attitude towards childcare to Sophie’s rough, wild, dangerous, thrilling and carefree escapades along the rooftops. What I did not quite expect was how moving I found so many of the scenes. The children that Sophie meets, hidden amongst the roof tops and treetops of Paris are such a courageous band. Matteo, Anastasia and Safi and the terrible ‘gariers’  are truly the ‘Lost Children’ – yet unlike Peter Pan they have had to grow up fast and hard. Their unspoken tales of sadness at their abandonment, and their determined, brave, angry resourcefulness was quite breathtaking.

I fell in love with this book, both  for its rich storytelling and its charm  – and cannot wait to see what Katherine Rundell writes next.

Find out what the Hot Key team thought of ROOFTOPPERS:

Discussion points:

‘Never ignore a possible’. Not following the crowd but following your dreams seem to be something  that runs through this book – whether it be running on rooftops rather than roads, or eating off books instead of plates. Are there any other examples of this you liked?

Katherine Rundell’s use of both detailed language and intriguing curveball ideas was a joy to read for me. I particularly liked ‘A blue tit landed on Sophie’s head. Sophie felt bejewelled.’ And also ‘There would be fewer wars if prime ministers ate doughnuts at government meetings.’ These are only two of many, though! Did you have any favourites?

Music of course runs in beautiful arpeggios throughout the book. I found myself wondering how Katherine Rundell picked the cello as the instrument that is key here. I would love to know! But in the meantime I will satisfy myself with the thought that to play the cello you need to draw it towards you and hold it close – as you would for a dance, or a hug…

Let us know what you thought of ROOFTOPPERS in a comment or on Twitter @HotKeyBooks!