Rooftoppers – Katherine Rundell

My mother is still alive, and she is going to come for me one day.

Everyone thinks that Sophie is an orphan. True, there were no other recorded female survivors from the shipwreck which left baby Sophie floating in the English Channel in a cello case, but Sophie remembers seeing her mother wave for help. Her guardian tells her it is almost impossible that her mother is still alive, but that means still possible. You should never ignore a possible.

So when the Welfare Agency writes to her guardian threatening to send Sophie to an orphanage, she takes matters into her own hands and flees to Paris to look for her mother, starting with the only clue she has – the address of the cello maker.

Evading the French authorities, she meets Matteo and his network of rooftoppers – urchins who live in the sky. Together they scour the city for Sophie’s mother before she is caught and sent back to London, and most importantly before she loses hope.

Other Books by the Author

The Girl Savage

Book Trailer

Author Website

First Chapter Extract

Interview with Katherine Rundell


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27 thoughts on “Rooftoppers – Katherine Rundell

  1. 5 star rating

    I really enjoyed reading the book Rooftoppers as it had a beautiful storyline to it and it made you feel that you could continuously read the book forever. I really liked the way the writer, Katherine Rundell, used French in the story which made you feel you were in Paris. There was lots of description about the characters to help you imagine them. I also liked how the story ended on a mystery as it had said ‘the cello was lying on the rooftop forgotten, but there seemed to be music still playing somewhere faster and faster, double-time.’

    This book was definitely worth reading!


  2. Rooftoppers starts on a ship that is sinking off the coast of France. Charles, one of the rescued passengers, spots a cello case floating past his lifeboat and rescues the baby girl inside. He calls her Sophie, takes her home to England and brings her up until she’s 12 years old. When Social Services threaten to put her in an orphanage, Charles takes her to Paris to track down her family.
    This book contains heart-stopping moments and memorable characters.
    Caitlin Love, Y7

  3. Most of the action of Rooftopppers is set on the rooftops of Paris where orphan Sophie enlists the help of roof dwelling teenagers to find her mother who, she believes, is out there somewhere. Sophie has to avoid the rooftop gangs and the Authorities who want to put her into an orphanage.
    This is a compelling story that really draws you in. I thought Rooftoppers was a really good read.
    Demi Wright, Y8

  4. Rooftopppers is about a baby girl who was found floating in a cello case floating away from a shipwreck by Charles. When Sophie is 12, they go ‘mother-hunting’, during which Sophie meets Matteo on the rooftops of Paris.
    This is an original and interesting story that got better and better. You probably won’t be able to put down. Charles is an unusual and independent character who doesn’t seem to have any ties. He’s so at home among the rooftops that I wondered if he’d been a rooftopper when he was young…
    Charlotte Urwin, Y6

  5. I think this is an unusual and interesting book. Charles is a remarkable character. He seems really bookish and old fashioned but he lets Sophie sleep on top of cupboards and use valuable books for plates. He even goes on the run to Paris when the Authorities try to take Sophie away and does his best to track down the mother that he suspects is still alive.
    I thought this book was a really fun, easy read. I liked the short chapters. I kept looking to see haw many pages the next chapter had and if it wasn’t that many, I read it! Also, the cover really sums up the plot. It couldn’t have been done better!
    Julia Swinglehurst, Y6

  6. I really enjoyed the bit when Charles and Sophie broke into the police department and found a photo of an orchestra in which Sophie’s mum is dressed as a man!
    My favourite character has to be Matteo because he was so independent and lived such a strange and interesting life.
    I enjoyed this book but two things disappointed me. I kept expecting to find out more about the sinking of the Queen Mary, how Sophie ended up in her mum’s cello case and what her mum had been doing since. This didn’t happen, which was frustrating. I also felt let down by the ending because I thought Charles, Sophie and Vivienne would become a family. I don’t think Vivienne would make a good parent!
    Atifa Mahin, Y8

  7. Rooftoppers was an amazing book! I very much enjoyed it. It was easy to believe in the characters, they were so detailed and I loved Matteo and his friends.
    Charles was easily my favourite character though. He was amazingly kind and devoted himself to Sophie. I felt very sorry for him at various times in the book, especially at the end when he lost Sophie. So much was taken from him. I didn’t like Sophie’s mum and was really disappointed by her. She didn’t deserve to get her daughter back.
    Alex Bartley, Y6

  8. I thought this was an amazing book and when it finished I wanted more. The beginning was quite slow but I loved the ending.
    Ava Harley, Y7

  9. I was relieved that this book didn’t have a great number of characters and didn’t confuse me! I enjoyed the plot and liked the way it was planned. Whilst Sophie and Charles were in England, events moved slowly but once they moved to France there was more action, which was interesting and hooked me to the book. I was surprised that the two main characters split up at the end. I thought this was unrealistic and a strange note to finish on.
    Joel Tilmouth, Y7

  10. I enjoyed the fast moving pace of this book. The characters were well described and I could easily imagine the book being turned into an animated film. However, there was such a strong bond of trust between Charles and Sophie, I thought the end was implausibly sudden and unexpected. I have unanswered questions about Sophie’s mother who makes a poor substitute for Charles.
    Sam Laws, Y7

  11. I think this book was very well written. I thought Matteo was a very interesting character and I loved the way the author divided the homeless children into tree dwellers and sky dwellers. I thought this was very creative. I would like to have known more about Vivienne and her past. Charles stood out for me as impulsive but mature and dependable. I loved this book and have recommended it to all my friends!
    Martha Hornett, Y6

  12. I can see how this book made it to the shortlist. I loved how the whole book revolved around one phrase – “Never ignore a possible”. This phrase really holds the story together and makes Sophie and Charles follow their hunches. Without it they wouldn’t have done the things they did: running away to Paris or jumping from rooftops and the book would have been boring. I thought all the characters were hard to forget and the description was so good I could imagine that I was really there.
    Josh Williams, Y6

  13. I liked this book until the ending, which was disappointing. I loved how Matteo was introduced into the story and how he develops after meeting and growing to trust and respect Sophie. I loved Charles, right up to the very last moment when he was let down so badly, I couldn’t bear it. I felt as though the author just wanted to bring the book to an end and didn’t care enough about our feelings for the characters to give it a decent ending.
    Georgia Phillips, Y8

  14. I thought this was an interesting book. I really liked Charles because he was quirky and kind hearted. The end was too rushed for me though. I felt Sophie behaved completely out of character by walking out of Charles’s life with a woman who obviously didn’t care for her as much as Charles and hadn’t even bothered to look for her. I couldn’t believe Sophie would just walk away from Charles and Matteo. I was sure there would be a good ending for them all.
    Katy Halliford, Y7

  15. I enjoyed this book because it was quite hard to stop reading. The only downside for me was not knowing what happened to the characters I’d come to care about so much by the end. It was obvious from the start that Sophie would find her mum but I wanted to know what was going to happen next. It was great story though.
    Rebekah Hudson, Y6

  16. This was a strange and unusual book but exciting too. Out of the two I’ve read so far, I liked this one the best. I thought a book about children and adults with no family and no proper home was very creative. It made me think about what it would be like to be entirely alone in the world and afraid of other people all the time, even people just like you. I didn’t like the ending because Sophie had wanted to see her mother so badly and when she did, there was only a page to go.
    Rachel Sharp, Y6

  17. From the cover, I rather imagined the story being someone giving you an insight of her life. It turned out to be more than that! I had high expectations of the book- seeing that the book had won many awards judging from the cover. I didn’t expect the book to be so outstanding though! It was an exceptional experience too, because it completely changed my view of rooftops (I thought it was a strange and dangerous sort of place) however this story showed me how beautiful the world must seem from a view above. It actually helped me imagine the breeze, the mystery. I could smell pigeon, and rat! I could look into life from Sophie’s eyes. Superb.
    Many other people must agree, for it is tremendous! Highly descriptive and the suspense (couldn’t put it down!) – I felt I was walking on the rooftops with Sophie. I loved how the writer repeated, “Below their feet, Paris slept.” because it’s something worth noticing – it brings you down to earth again. That’s what I love about this book- one minute you’re up, and then down. This book is like a melody- peaceful, beautiful and ongoing. It’s up there with the favourites!

    By Mayisha

  18. This book was lovely! I enjoyed every page and the description was so good, I could picture scenes clearly in my head. I found the beginning a bit slow but I really enjoyed the action when the story moved to Paris. Overall, I thought this was a beautiful and moving story!
    Lydia Goldsmith, Y7

  19. This book is written in a fun style consisting of blunt thoughts in print. It’s easy to read and for me flowed nicely. I do have a few criticisms, however.
    Sophie has the potential to be a great character but she has some major flaws that make me dislike her, which isn’t good for a central protagonist! She proves to be very selfish at the end when she leaves Charles for her mother and she’s also sometimes very rude to him. However, in her defence, she’s a feisty character who leads the story well.
    Another thing I don’t like is the frequent references to and descriptions of ‘snot’. I would simply prefer not to know.
    I like the plot but not the ending. It did cross my mind that Vivienne might not actually be Sophie’s mother but I suppose the way she started to hug her was supposed to clear that doubt up. I couldn’t help feeling uneasy though. Vivienne did not seem sufficiently responsible and reliable to be an effective parent.
    Finally, lots of loose ends are left flying around. Sophie and Charles never shake off the French police and we don’t know what will happen to any of the characters we care about. If this is intentional and to be developed in a sequel, I’ll be satisfied, however – especially if it is as well written and gripping as this book.
    Kathleen Swinglehurst, Y8

  20. Rooftoppers is one of the most original books I’ve read and enjoyed. I was intrigued by Matteo and Charles, who are most unusual and compelling characters. Sophie is also likeable as she is resilient and brave. I was rather disappointed by the ending, however, as there seemed to be so many unresolved issues and I was shocked at the way Sophie treated Charles. Nevertheless, this is a very good read.
    Amy Walker, Y8

  21. This book is really good. I love how the main characters are so positive as they set off to Paris with only a small possibility of success. The story is really cute and I like how Sophie is more of a tom-boy than a girly girl and how Charles will never ignore a possible. Really good and entertaining.
    Rosabel Rees, Y8

  22. I thought this book had an exciting plot and I liked the way that most of the story was set on the rooftops of Paris. I liked the character of Sophie, she was very determined. I didn’t like the way Charles kept calling her ‘Dear Heart’ because it didn’t suit her personality but I suppose it fitted in with his old fashioned character. I was annoyed that we didn’t have a proper ending for Charles when he was such a central character.
    Stephanie Skek, Y6

  23. I really enjoyed this book! It has a really good plot and I liked the atmosphere at the end when Sophie’s mum was there on a rooftop playing her cello. I think it needed an epilogue, though, to let us know what happened to the other characters that we care about like Charles and Matteo.
    If there is a sequel, I would like to know about Charles’s life before he met Sophie. Was he a rooftopper? I thought he might have been because he didn’t seem too fussed when he found Sophie jumping between rooves or sleeping on top of the wardrobe. I loved this book and I will definitely read it again.
    Eve Massey, Y6

  24. I liked this book very much. For me, it seemed to split into two parts: a calm period when Sophie was growing up at Charles’s house and an action-filled part on the rooftops in Paris. I liked both of them.
    I did find a couple of loose ends that rather disappointed me though. We never found out whether Charles had been a rooftopper when he was young, although a few hints were dropped, and I did want to know what happened to him after he lost Sophie.
    Grace Coffey, Y6

  25. I found the main setting in this book – the rooftops in Paris – a bit hard to believe but thrilling, nonetheless. At first, Sophie seems such a kind soul and devoted to Charles but, by the end, maybe not. I found it upsetting that Sophie couldn’t be content with Charles but constantly talks about her mother and how much she wants to find her.
    At the end, Charles seemed to take being ditched very well. He was so dignified and patient with Sophie but I couldn’t believe that she’d walk away and leave him just like that. I don’t like stories ending on a cliffhanger and I wonder whether the author had planned further in her own mind.
    Jessica Hawkins, Y7

  26. I really enjoyed this book. I found it thrilling and not boring at any point. I thought the only bit that could be made better was the ending because it doesn’t say anything about what happens to the characters: I suppose that could lead on to a sequel and I hope a sequel is written.


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