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The Rooftop

A Moving Quest for Freedom

Four diverse students with very different backgrounds form a friendship at a Sydney school. At Darlinghurst East Public School, Emma, Maha, Simon and Talia, learn about themselves and each other through the unusual combination of Scripture class and netball. As Mr. Zulman reveals the story of the Exodus to the students, they reveal their own stories to each other: Simons parents are separated and warring with each other. Talias dyslexia makes the classroom an everyday struggle. Mahas family is facing deportation back to war-torn Iraq, and, Emma, who has lived all her life in Sydney, begins for the first time to appreciate the value of freedom. Outside of class as the netball season progresses, freedom takes on a new meaning for the four students when on the very day of the netball finals, Maha and her family face the very real prospect of deportation.

Toby Hammerschlag was a special education teacher for thirty years,concentrating on assisting children with learning disabilities to become literate. She was born in South Africa and immigrated to Australia in 1986 with her husband and two young daughters. She was a competitive netball player in both countries.

Her inspiration for the novel comes from her many years of working with children from diverse backgrounds combined with her love of sport and the Sydney landscape.

  • A moving novel for 9-13 year old readers, set in an inner city school against a quintessential Sydney (Australia) background.
  • Interweaves historical and contemporary quests for freedom into the personal struggles of four diverse characters.
  • A captivating story of unlikely friendship that grows in the classroom and on the netball court until one among them faces the very real prospect of deportation.
  • Highly suited to the classroom, opening up popular topics of discussion around diversity and equality.
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