Yes I know this is cheating – but I couldn’t choose between these two wonderful novels so have gone for both.
Katherine Rundell has blazed on to the children’s books scene with her charming, fresh, utterly individual view of the world and vivid writing style. Her heroines (Wilhelmina in The Girl Savage, Sophie in Rooftoppers), are brave, passionate, gifted and loyal, with a total lack of interest in minor details like washing, clean clothes and good behaviour. Both girls need all their courage, strength and agility to overcome the heartlessness of the adult world. Losing her idyllic life in Africa, Wilhelmina escapes from the harsh boarding school to which she’s been condemned; while Sophie learns to negotiate Paris by rooftop to stay one step ahead of the Authorities who want to tear her from her beloved adopted father. Not all of the details are believable but the writing is so powerful it doesn’t matter.
(First published 5th Jan 2014)