The Death-defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean

The Death-defying Pepper Roux

Written by Geraldine McCaughrean

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Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2011

A World Book Day 'Recommended Read' for 2011

Prize-winning Geraldine McCaughrean has turned her deft hand to a brilliantly witty and fast moving story about a boy who wants to defy his destiny. Pepper is an unusual name and Pepper Roux is an unusual child especially since, according to her Aunt Mireille, he was destined to die young. Can Pepper avoid that fate by slipping away into another life? Quick readers will be able to follow him as he does everything he can to do so.

A piece of passion from the editor who bought the book:

Geraldine McCaughrean is an extraordinary author to work with, because each of her books is so different, so surprising, and so jaw-droppingly good. When a new book from her appears, I never know quite what to expect – but I know that whatever it is will be a sheer joy to read. And that definitely goes for The Death Defying Pepper Roux. There’s so much to like about this book. It whisks you off from the start on a wonderful chase full of characters you will never forget, ideas so intriguing they will make you gasp, and events so enjoyable that they will make you wriggle with delight. It’s clever and intriguing and beautifully written – but most of all it’s fun from its startling beginning to its wholly satisfying finish.


The Death-defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean

Pepper Roux has a charmed life, not only because he confounded his mad aunt's prediction that he was going to die at 14 by remaining alive, but also because he can step into any role he likes and have an adventure. Pepper becomes a sea captain and a sausage-seller, amongst other things, creating chaos wherever he goes.

Download OUP's Pepper Roux Reading Notes from the right hand column of this page, by clicking on Reader's Guide.


'There are other authors writing for all ages who are good, and a few who are very good indeed. But on form Geraldine McCaughrean is in a class of her own, and this latest story is as fine as anything she has written yet.'

'I couldn't put it down. It's wise and odd and funny, and the plot kept zipping off in unexpected directions right to the end ... everybody should read Geraldine McCaughrean.'

'this is irresistible reading, to enchant all ages ... Pepper Roux can make you happy too.'

About the Author

Geraldine McCaughrean

It’s over 30 years now since I first got published, and 50 since I discovered how writing carried me out of my little, everyday world, wherever I chose – way back in Time, to far distant shores, towards my own, home-made happy ending. I write adventure, first and foremost, because that’s what I enjoyed reading as a child. But since I have published over 160 titles now, there are books are every taste and age among them – gorgeously illustrated picture books, easy-readers, prize winners, teenage books and five adult novels (soon to be freshly released as ebooks).

Teen novel The White Darkness won the Printz Award in the USA, which, for this Englishwoman was an amazing, startling thrill. Other prizes have included the Whitbread Children’s Book Award (three times), the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Smarties Bronze Award (four times), the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award and the Blue Peter Special Book to Keep for Ever. Although I have only won the much coveted Carnegie Medal once, seven of my titles have been shortlisted for it, the latest being The Middle of Nowhere.

Then there is Peter Pan in Scarlet – official sequel to J M Barrie’s Peter Pan and Wendy, written on behalf of Great Ormond Street Hospital. I won the chance to write that in a worldwide competition, and because Peter Pan is loved everywhere, my book sold worldwide too. It is soon to appear on stage and, just possibly, in the cinema.

I can’t say I expected any of this when, as a child, I dreamed of being like my older brother and ‘getting a book published one day’.

I was born and grew up in Enfield, North London. I trained as a teacher and then worked for ten years in TV and publishing. These days, I am lucky enough just to stay home and write. I have a husband (good at continuity and spelling) and a daughter who is an excellent editor. Having studied at Rada, she is now an actor so, naturally, I have turned my hand to writing plays. (So many actors, so few plays!) Some of my plays are for schools and young people, so you can find them in book form.

My Mum told me, “Never boil your cabbages twice, dear,” which was her way of saying, “Don’t repeat yourself.” So I have tried never to write the same book twice. You’ll find all my novels quite different from one another. I’m afraid that the only way you can find out which ones you like and which you don’t is to read them. Something for everyone, you see, my dear, young, not-so-young, eccentric, middle-of-the-road, poetical, sad, cheerful, timid or reckless reader. All they have in common is that they contain words. If you are allergic to words, you’d best not open the covers.

Geraldine lives in Berkshire with her husband.

Author photo © Brett Williams U.K.

Anne Fine on Geraldine McCaughrean:

'I reckon Geraldine McCaughrean knocks the socks off every other children's writer today. Everything she does is different and everything works – look at her list of prizes. She must write in tremendous bursts. Some years, she's so prolific the rest of us start joking that the fairies come in at night to do her work for her. Then she'll go quiet, so unlike all those writers who are persuaded by their publishers to come up with something every year, no matter how tired or drab. If Geraldine has nothing fresh to write, she doesn't write it.' (The Guardian)

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Book Info


256 pages


Geraldine McCaughrean
More books by Geraldine McCaughrean

Author's Website


Oxford University Press

Publication date

3rd June 2010




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