It is the autumn of 1886 in Amsterdam. Five babies are abandoned at the Little Tulip Orphanage, each in curious circumstances. Twelve years later Milou, Lotta, Fenna, Sem and Egg-each with a characteristic that marks them as different-have been deemed "the unadoptables", until the night a sinister sea captain threatens to tear them apart. The gang makes a daring escape into the Dutch countryside, pursuing a few scraps of clues in search of the truth about Milou's past. This delicious debut had me reading late into the night. Puffin acquired the book in a significant pre-empt deal, and it's easy to see why. Beautiful but accessible writing, thrilling action, a hint of magic and unforgettable characters are delivered with wit, wisdom and heart in an enviably distinctive voice. It's a story of unforgettable friendship and what it really means to be a family. Much of the joy is in the quirky details: a baby basket shaped like a coffin; the abandoned windmill; a house filled with clocks; and a magical puppet theatre. I can't wait to see what Tooke does next. Now 23rd July 2020.
In Hana Tooke’s gripping The Unadoptables, illustrated by Ayesha L Rubio, orphans Lotta, Sem, Milou, Fenna and Egg know they’re special, even if Matron Gassgeek thinks they’re misfits. When a sinister stranger threatens to separate them, the quintet flee through a wintry Amsterdam in search of Milou’s parents and a home of their own. A Dickensian orphanage, a hilariously varied cast and a windmill crammed with mysterious puppets make for a delightful and evocative first book.
There are hints of the supernatural, coincidences, gothic touches, adults who may or may not be trusted, memorable settings including a windmill with a theatre attached, and finally a heartwarming ending, as we see the children stand up for themselves, discover the truth about a mystery and find who they belong to.