Monday, November 18, 2013


 Booklist starred (September 1, 2013 (Vol. 110, No. 1))

Grades 4-6. When a ship sinks, a one-year-old baby is found floating in a cello case in the English Channel, wrapped in the score of a symphony. She is saved by one of the ­passengers, a gangly young scholar named Charles Maxwell. Charles decides to keep her. This will cause problems because a single man having a young girl as his ward is frowned upon in 1890s London. Until then, Sophie has a wonderful life living in his drafty house, being taught all manner of interesting things by Charles, and wearing whatever she likes, especially trousers. Yet, one thing bothers Sophie very much: she is sure her mother is still alive. When Sophie is 12, the authorities order her to an orphanage. Instead, Sophie and Charles flee to Paris, where the cello case was made—the first clue to her origins. What follows is a glorious adventure set mostly on the rooftops of Paris. Sophie meets Matteo, who lives on Parisian roofs, and his pals, street kids who help her in her quest. The story is magic, though not in the usual sense. Rundell’s writing is suffused with sparkling images—Sophie’s hair is the color of lightning—and she writes with a perfect mix of dreaminess and humor. The characters shine, too: Charles, the perfect guardian, who uses toast as a bookmark; Matteo, miserable and marvelous by turns; and the inimitable, unsinkable (literally) Sophie, who doesn’t give up. Here’s a heartwarming charmer.

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