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For action on the home front, few books match the wit and fun of Erich Kastner's, Emil and the Detectives. Published between World Wars, this witty tale of young boys tracking a thief won Kastner immediate and lasting fame in Germany, and eventual international fame as well.
Emil Tischbein is off on a small-scale adventure to visit relatives in Berlin. In the train, however, the money he is carrying to give his grandmother is stolen while he sleeps. Emil doesn't dare see his grandmother without the promised funds, so he's off on a large-scale adventure to trail the thief. He is soon joined by a host of schoolboys free for the summer holidays, and eager for excitement as they jockey for importance.
This is a funny-bone-tickling romp, innocent to the core. The cast of characters listed in the beginning can be slow going for younger children. If so, skip it and start into the adventure, going back for characterizations as necessary. Budding young feminists may balk at Pony Hutchen's contentment with home and bicycle, but only a died-in-the-wool scrooge would miss out on Emil's exploits.
Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner is featured in Vol 9 No 5 of The Storybook Home Journal.