I came across this book via a discussion on Mad Tea Book Club’s Twitter account. We were talking about our favorite women authors. Mine is Diana Wynne Jones – I’m a huge fan of her character Sophie Hatter from Howls’ Moving Castle. From that thread, someone introduced me to Katherine Rundell, whose book Roof Toppers was inspired by Sophie Hatter herself.
In fact, Roof Toppers’ heroine is even named Sophie. Baby Sophie was found floating in a cello case wrapped in Beethoven symphony music sheets to keep her warm. Charles, an English gentleman who was aboard that ship, found her and decided to take care of this baby. Sophie grows up most unconventionally but was as loved as any child can be loved. Yet, she has a deep longing for her mother, whom she believed must be a cellist, and must still be alive all this time.
No one believed Sophie because at that time women did not play the cello. Women could not be professional musicians. Thank goodness we’ve come quite some way with this regard eh! Back to Sophie…
She finds a clue that the cello case was made in France, and so Charles goes with her to Paris on a “mother hunt”. It is here in Paris that Sophie meets Matteo and the other roof toppers. They are orphans who do not wish to live in orphanages. Instead, they choose to live free on the rooftops of Paris. They learn skills like climbing impossibly high trees, running and jumping from roof to roof, hunting birds to feed themselves, and swimming in the Seine for coins whenever they need some money!
Will Sophie find her mother? And what happens to Charles, if indeed Sophie’s wishes are true?
This middle grade fantasy book is an enjoyable quick read with a definite emotional punch. In her Goodreads page, the author hints that she would like to revisit this world. When she does, I’ll be reading it too!