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The Unadoptables

Written by Hana Tooke

Illustrated by Ayesha L. Rubio

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The Unadoptables Review

Adventure Stories Books of the Month Crime / Mystery Debuts of the Month Featured Books for 11+ readers Featured Books for 9+ readers General Fiction Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE)

A wonderfully entertaining adventure and captivating mystery

A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2020 | August 2020 Debut/Book of the Month

Warm-hearted and mysterious The Unadoptables is a wonderfully entertaining adventure with a cast of fascinating characters set in a brilliantly evoked old-world Amsterdam and the surrounding countryside. Following the clues from the only possessions she was left with when she was abandoned as a baby and guided by her ‘Book of Theories’, the imaginative Milou leads her four friends – the least adoptable children in the very horrible Little Tulip Orphanage – to her family home where she is sure she will find her parents. Travelling through a freezing night the children arrive at their destination. But there is not the welcome they had expected. Where are Milou’s parents? And what is the mystery they need to solve? The creative ways in which the five children manage first to escape from the evil clutches of their matron and her evil accomplice Rotman and then to make a new life for themselves bamboozling neighbours and unravelling the mystery is vivid and captivating.

Julia Eccleshare M.B.E

Other Info

Julia Eccleshare's Picks for August 2020

The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke

Duck and Penguin Do Not Like Sleepovers by Julia Woolf

That Dog! by Emma Lazell

It's OK to Cry by Molly Peters

The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay

Noah Wild and the Floating Zoo by Alexander McCall Smith

The Unadoptables Synopsis

Five amazing children . . . one most un-ordinary adventure. 

In all the years that Elinora Gassbeek has been matron of the Little Tulip Orphanage, not once have the very strict Rules for Baby Abandonment been broken. Until the autumn of 1886, when five babies are left in outrageous circumstances: One in a tin toolbox. One in a coal bucket. One in a picnic hamper. One in a wheat sack. And finally, one in a coffin-shaped basket.

Those babies were Lotta, Egg, Fenna, Sem and Milou. And although Gassbeek might think they're 'unadoptable', they know their individuality is what makes them so special - and so determined to stay together. Then a most sinister gentleman appears and threatens to tear them apart.

The gang decide to make a daring escape, fleeing the frozen canals of Amsterdam for an adventure packed with puppets and pirate ships, clock-makers and cruel villains - and with only a scrap of a clue to guide them. But is their real home - and their real family - already closer than they realise?

The Unadoptables Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading4Kids expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

A five star book of adventure and working together as a family unit. Full review

Hermione Chaytors (Age 11)

An exciting book which is dark, adventurous, great fun and full of fantastic illustrations. I definitely recommend this brilliant book! Full review

Emily Welbourn (Age 9)

Holy Gouda! This spectacular story of friendship, belonging and daring adventure had me hooked from start to finish! Full review

Fern Tolley

This is brilliant! You should read it! Full review

Aidan Jones (Age 8)

A great story of friendship and belonging. I really enjoyed reading the Unadoptables. Full review

Bella (Age 13)

A fast-paced book filled with hope, friendship and a sense of belonging. Full review

Rebecca Mullins

10/10! Amazingly brilliant cliff-hanger of a book. Full review

Logan Taylor (Age 11)

The Unadoptables Press Reviews

A compelling, gorgeously-written story about the power of friendship and the true meaning of family . . . perfection! Robin Stevens, author of Murder Most Unladylike

A high-speed, witty, absurd and joyful adventure. Katherine Rundell, author of Rooftoppers and The Good Thieves

Unfolding with the clarity of a fairy tale, this sure-footed debut casts a delightfully spooky spell. (Fantasy. 8-12) - Kirkus

With a little bit of spookiness and a whole lot of quirkiness, this book will capture your heart! - Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Company

This book has everything you need: villians, action, comedy and adventure all rolled into one.  - Robyn Broderick, The Reading Bug

Perfect for reading out loud, and just the right amount of scary, this has the feel of a classic in the making. - Bethany Strout, Tattered Cover Bookstore

The Unadoptables will make you wish your own parents had loved you enough to leave you at a Dutch orphanage in the 19th century to join in their adventures. Great for readers of A Series of Unfortunate Events and the Serafina series. - Nathan Halter, Lahaska Bookshop

Unfolding with the clarity of a fairy tale, this sure-footed debut casts a delightfully spooky spell - Kirkus

Effortlessly merging the gothic and ghastly with the eccentric and absurd  -  Waterstones Blog, 'Best Books to Look Out For in 2020'

This delicious debut had me reading late into the night... Beautiful but accessible writing, thrilling action, a hint of magic and unforgettable characters are delivered with wit, wisdom and heart in an enviably distinct voice. - The Bookseller, Children's Book of the Month

...spectacular wit, dazzling theatrical wonder and huge amount of hope, courage and everlasting friendship. A book to absolutely fall in love with. - Cerrie Burnell, author of The Girl With the Shark's Teeth

A corker of a story. - Emma Carroll, author of Letters to the Lighthouse

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The Midnighters

All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780241417447
Publication date: 18/02/2021
Publisher: Puffin an imprint of Penguin Random House Children's UK
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780241417461
Publication date: 23/07/2020
Publisher: Puffin an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780241417461
Publication date: 23rd July 2020
Author: Hana Tooke
Illustrator: Ayesha L. Rubio
Publisher: Puffin an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Hardback
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 9+ readers
Genres: Adventure Stories, Crime / Mystery, General Fiction, Personal Social Health Economic
Recommendations: Books of the Month, Debuts of the Month, Julia Eccleshare's Picks, Reviewed by Children
Collections: Our favourite children's books of 2020, Books about fantastic friends and families,

About Hana Tooke

Half Dutch, half English, Hana Tooke grew up near Amsterdam and moved to the south of England at the age of twelve. After completing a degree in music, and then a PGCE, Hana was a primary school teacher for several years. Hana also completed the Bath Spa University Writing for Young People MA, and The Unadoptables was shortlisted for The Bath Children's Novel Award 2018. She lives in Bath with two humans and a cat. 

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