Review Blog

Jul 24 2020

The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke

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Puffin Books, 2020. ISBN: 9780241453612.
(Ages: 9+ years). Highly recommended. The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke is an exciting and cleverly written middle grade read. The story is action-packed with mystery, danger, adventure and some very evil characters. In 1800 five orphans are abandoned in the same week in different receptacles at the Little Tulip Orphanage. Chapter One begins with the rules for abandoning babies being broken and an introduction to each child who is given an unusual name by the cruel and dastardly matron Elinora Gassbeek. The children, named Lotta, Egg, Fenna, Sem and Milou, have their own special qualities that they share with each other. They have never been adopted and have a strong familial bond and survival instinct. They are treated miserably and work all day and night for little food and no comforts. Milou is determined to find her parents and is a wonderful storyteller. She creates all sorts of reasons as to why she was abandoned and keeps a Book of Theories. Milou is the driving force behind the five escaping the orphanage after the villainous Mr Rotman offers to buy them from the matron to become child slaves on his ship. He and the matron are in partnership and profiting from the sale of the orphans. Milou with the help of the other children finds a home in the guise of a windmill using map coordinates left in her baby coffin. The abandoned property also contains an old rundown theatre and puppets similar to the one Milou has had with her from her arrival at the orphanage. Once at the windmill the five decide to stay and live there but need to earn money to survive. They embark on a grand plan to raise money by holding a puppet show for the local community and also in the hope of finding Milou's parents whom she strongly believes are searching for her. Added to this scenario is the suspicious neighbour, an official from the Kinderbureau, a man-eating dog, one of the children held captive, the dramatic rescue, plus a mysterious stranger and there is the makings of a great tale for avid readers of mystery and danger. Themes: Orphans, Family, 1800's, Amsterdam, Adventure, Excitement, Danger, Mystery.
Kathryn Beilby

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