The Unadoptables
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The Unadoptables

Hana Tooke, Ayesha L. Rubio

‘Milou,’ Lotta said softly. ‘We need adoption papers to leave. And no one except that horrid merchant wants us.’ ‘Well then,’ replied Milou with a grin. ‘We’ll just have to adopt ourselves.’

In all the years that Elinora Gassbeek has been matron of the Little Tulip Orphanage, not once have the 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; who were swiftly and firmly deemed ‘the unadoptables’.

Twelve years on the children still have each other - until the fateful night 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 to their mysterious new home …


Meet the ‘unadoptables’, a curiously misfit yet endearing ragtag bunch of five orphan children growing up in the utterly deplorable Little Tulip Orphanage in Holland in the 1880s. The matron of the orphanage, Elinora Gassbeck, despairs that not one of these five children (namely Milou, Lotta, Sem, Egg and Fenna) were abandoned in a manner that could be deemed sensible.

This fact singles these children out as different to others in the orphanage, rendering them hopelessly un-adoptable! That is, until a villainous character makes an offer to the matron that would see all five ‘unadoptables’ taken off her hands at once.

Fortunately, the children themselves are wise to the dubious nature of this deal and come up with an elaborate escape plan. So begins a story of a perilous flight to freedom, followed by a search to find lost parents. This is a quirky adventure story with a big enveloping heart that will appeal to readers aged 9+.

Natalie Platten is the assistant manager and children’s book buyer at Readings Doncaster.

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