Emil is excited to be taking the train on his own for the first time. He doesn't like the look of his fellow passenger, the man in the bowler hat. Emil will just have to keep his wits about him and his money in his pocket. But Emil falls asleep and when he wakes up the man in the bowler hat is gone - and so is the money! Emil is determined to get it back. He teams up with a gang of young detectives and so begins a hair-raising chase across Berlin to catch the dirty rotten thief...
BACKSTORY: Learn all about the book's brave author and find out just how good a sleuth you would be.
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Both boys - me in 1955, my son in 1996 - seemed to be drawn into this story in some way beyond the usual...The main pleasure of the book is in the way in which it plays to the fantasy of omnipotence in a child: that a team of kids could really organise themselves into a team of detectives and catch a thief - Guardian
A great political story: democracy in action - Ten books every Year 7 child should read
The perfect introduction to the world of fictional crime detection - Independent
So what makes these different to any other set of classics? In a moment of inspiration Random House had the bright idea of actually asking Key stage 2 children what extra ingredients they could add to make children want to read. And does it work? Well, put it this way...my 13-year-old daughter announced that she had to read a book over the summer holiday and, without any prompting, spotted The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas...and proceeded to read it! Now, if you knew my 13-year-old daughter, you would realise that this is quite remarkable. She reads texts, blogs and tags by the thousand - but this is the first book she has read since going to high school, so all hail Vintage Classics! - National Association for the Teaching of English
Emil for me personally is very important, but also it's very important in the history of children's books, and again it reminds us that Germany is not just simply about the period 1933 to 1945 - BBC News
Erich Kästner was born in Dresden in Germany in 1899. Much like Emil himself Erich Kästner was an only child. He was devoted to his mother who worked as a hairdresser to supplement their family income. Erich Kästner went into the army in 1917, and his experiences there made him feel strongly that war and violence were wrong. He published Emil and the Detectives in 1928 and Emil and the Three Twins in 1933. The books were very popular but when Hitler's government - the Nazis - were in power Kastner's books were labelled anti-German. Joseph Goebbels, who was in charge of the Government Propaganda, said 'In the name of the fight against decadence and moral corruption! In the name of breeding and rectitude in state and family, I consign to the flames the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Glasser and Erich Kastner!' Erich Kästner was one of the only authors who was present as his books were tossed on to the flames in 1933. Luckily, although Hitler and Goebbels had Kastner's books thrown on to the fire, Emil has outlasted them and lives to spy another day. Erich Kästner was awarded the American Library Association Mildred L. Batchelder Award and the Hans Christian Andersen Award.He died in 1974.
Walter Trier was the celebrated illustrator of many children's books. He illustrated several other of Erich Kästner's children's books, including The Flying Classroom and Emil and the Three Twins.