Caren's Reviews > The Death-Defying Pepper Roux

The Death-Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean
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May 09, 11

bookshelves: children
Read in May, 2011

This book is short-listed for the 2011 Carnegie Medal (a British award for outsanding children's books).
Pepper, the hero of the story, has been told all his life that he is expected to die by the time he is fourteen years old, as his Aunt Mireille was told by Saint Constance at his birth. Pepper's real name is Paul, but his aunt calls him "mon petit pauvre" (my poor little one), which his classmates at school mistakenly hear as "poivre", and so he acquired the nickname "Pepper". Aunt Mireille makes sure Pepper goes to confession every other day, in preparation for his imminent demise. As his fourteenth birthday arrives and the sense of foreboding at home overwhelms him, on an impulse, he walks out. Could he change fate? Could he trick it? He disguises himself as his father, a ship's captain, and sails off in his father's stead. Thus begins a series of certainly very implausible, yet highly entertaining, adventures. If you can just suspend your disbelief and go with it, the book will probably appeal to you. It has a dark, tongue-in-cheek humor and is action-packed. Pepper seems to hurtle from one improbable situation to the next and I couldn't have predicted how the story would end up, but Ms. McCaughrean ties up all loose ends neatly by the end of the book. I somehow think this is a book that will appeal more to children than adults, and, as I am in the midst of reading some of the other Carnegie contenders, don't really see this as the ultimate winner. But, you never know. It does have great entertainment value.
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