ARC received from the publisher, Puffin UK, in exchange for an honest review.
The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Middle grade, children’s fiction
Published: 21st July 2020 by Viking Books for Young Readers (US), and 23rd July 2020 by Puffin (UK).
The Unadoptables caught my eye because of its adorably whimsical cover, and I’m so glad to have read this wonderful tale of friendship and found family during this bleak and trying time.
I’ve always loved reading children’s fiction for they have this wondrously cosy and endearing quality that much of adult fiction tend to lack. For me, it also never failed to harken back to my very early bookworm days as I devoured books in droves. All the Enid Blyton books that my extended family had could not satisfy my curiosity and yearning to explore through those pages. I could still recall my old and tattered paperback of The Children of Willow Farm that I’ve read at least a dozen times, and how much I wanted to live in a farm just like Rory, Sheila, Benjy and Penny. Or how much I wanted to attend a boarding school like Elizabeth Allen from The Naughtiest Girl in the School, or Darrell Rivers of Malory Towers that I’ve given myself the same English names during my middle grade and high school years.
Anyway, I’ve been digressing. The Unadoptables is author Hana Tooke’s debut and it has all the makings of a great classic to be loved by generations to come. Set in the late 19th century Amsterdam, the period flavour lends timeless quality to the story of five unusual orphans who have been left at The Tulip Orphanage in a most unacceptable manner (according to the rules). For twelve years these five remained in the orphanage, deemed ‘unadoptable’ by the Elinora Gassbeek, its cruel matron. Milou, Lotta, Sem, Fenna and Egbert (more affectionately known as Egg) have grown into very distinguished and precocious individuals.
From the bravest to the cleverest, the most talented, kindest and sweetest in all of Amsterdam, these five exceptional children found themselves on an unexpected escapade on one fateful winter night. The tenacity, ingenuity, love and loyalty shown by these marvellous kids were charming and heartwarming to say the least. There’s nothing childish about the writing as well, which made it even more suitable for adults who already enjoy reading children’s fiction. In fact, I was delightfully surprised with how brilliantly atmospheric and gothic the story was. To cap it all off, the book illustrations by Ayesha L. Rubio were wonderful and made the reading experience even more magical.
So, kick back with some Stroopwafels, a cup of coffee or tea, and let The Unadoptables whisk you away to 19th century Amsterdam for a fun and gothic adventure that will warm the cockles of your heart.