The Pasta Detectives by Andreas Steinhofel

The Pasta Detectives

Written by Andreas Steinhofel

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Shortlisted for the 2011 Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation.

This is a funny and original mystery starring two unlikely boy detectives, the mildly autistic Rico and the brainy but anxiety-ridden Oscar. The story of The Pasta Detectives explores the friendships between these two very disparate characters but who together are hugely successful in solving some of the most quirky adventures that unfold.

The Marsh Award shortlisted books are:

The Pasta Detectives by Andreas Steinhofel, translated from German by Chantal Wright

Letters to Anyone and Everyone by Toon Tellegen, translated from Dutch by Martin Cleaver

No and Me by Delphine de Vigan, translated from French by George Miller

David's Story by Stig Dalager, translated from Danish by Frances Osterfelt and Cheryl Robson


The Pasta Detectives by Andreas Steinhofel

Translated from the German bestseller, this is a funny and original mystery starring two unlikely boy detectives.

Rico is an unusual boy. Sometimes he's laughed at because he mixes things up in his head and he doesn't know his left from his right, but Rico is brilliant at noticing the little things that nobody else does - like a piece of pasta lying on the pavement, or the strange goings on of his neighbours in the apartment block where he lives. But it isn't until his new friend, the gifted but anxious Oscar is kidnapped that Rico gets the chance to put all his special skills - and tenacity - to the test.


Review of ‘The Pasta Detectives’ by Books for Keeps [4 stars]

Rico begins his diary just as the summer holidays get underway. He’s been encouraged to do this by his teacher, who believes that writing may help him to make sense of the world. For Rico is no ordinary child: he can only navigate life when it moves in a straight line, otherwise alarm bells sound within his head. Just as he starts to write, he receives news that the kidnapper – the subject of much rumour and unease these last few months – is once again on the move. This, combined with the fact that he notices an odd piece of pasta on the pavement and shadowy shadows in the next-door building, triggers his imagination – and his diary soon fills with an outpouring of thoughts, feelings and descriptions of real-life happenings.

As an only child, with a working mother and no friends his age, he spends much of his time with his neighbours. But then, out of the blue, he meets Oscar, for whom he feels instant friendship. Oscar is his antithesis – he’s clever, exceptionally so. They agree to meet the next day. But when Oscar fails to turn up, Rico’s disappointment turns to anger, and then fear for his safety. Turning detective, he sets out – and resolves – the jigsaw of Oscar’s disappearance.

The story is set in contemporary Berlin amid playgrounds, apartment blocks and derelict buildings, which provide background atmosphere to the mystery. The characters are real, varied and engaging. Rico is affable and imaginative, aware of his limitations but also his strengths. He’s in stark contrast to the gifted Oscar. Yet they both see the world from similar perspectives and are regarded as ‘different’ by their peers. The first-person narrative is funny and rambling, moving the adventure forward while providing insights into Rico’s life. We enter his emotional world, share his perceptions of everyday behaviour and actions – and even come to recognise the absurdities of everyday language. Quirky and amusing, this is an enjoyable read.

About the Author

Andreas Steinhofel

Andreas Steinhofel is the author of numerous books for children and young adults. He has a degree in English and Media Studies from Philipps Universitat Marburg and in Germany is a very well-known translator of children’s books as well as being a scriptwriter and reviewer. His book The Centre of the World won the prestigious Buxtehuder Bulle prize for the best Young Adult Novel in Germany and was shortlisted for the German Children’s Literature Award.

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Book Info


208 pages


Andreas Steinhofel
More books by Andreas Steinhofel


Chicken House Ltd

Publication date

5th April 2010




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