Enjoy this sample from The Unadoptables. Recommended for readers 10+
LITTLE TULIP ORPHANAGE, AMSTERDAM, 1880
Little Tulip Orphanage Rules of Baby Abandonment
RULE ONE: The baby should be wrapped in a cotton blanket.
RULE TWO: The baby should be placed in a wicker basket.
RULE THREE: The baby should be deposited on the topmost step.
In all the years that Elinora Gassbeek had been matron of the Little Tulip Orphanage, not once had the Rules of Baby Abandonment been broken. Until the summer of 1880.
Five babies were abandoned at the Little Tulip in the months that followed and, despite the rules being clearly displayed on the orphanage’s front door, not one of these babies was abandoned sensibly.
The first baby arrived on a bright morning at the end of August, as dew glistened on the city’s cobblestone streets. Swaddled in a pink cotton blanket, and placed on the appropriate step, was a baby with cocoa-bean eyes and blonde fuzz on its head.
However, the way in which Rule Two had been disregarded left no room for forgiveness. The child was snuggled inside a tin toolbox, which had been wrapped with emerald green ribbon, as if it were a present.
‘Ugh!’ Elinora Gassbeek squawked, looking down at the toolbox-baby in disgust. She signalled a nearby orphan to retrieve it. ‘Put it upstairs.’ The orphan nodded.
‘What name shall I put on the cot, Matron?’ The matron curled her lip. Naming children was tedious, but necessary.
‘She’s got a lotta fingers, Matron!’ The baby was sucking its thumb, making loud slurping noises that sent ants crawling up the matron’s spine. She counted the child’s fingers. Sure enough, it had an extra digit on each hand.
‘Name it . . . Lotta.’