The Flying Classroom by Erich Kastner

The Flying Classroom

Written by Erich Kastner
Illustrated by Walter Trier
Part of the Red Fox middle fiction Series

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One of our Books of the Year 2014 A perfect story for Christmas! Set in a school in the weeks running up to Christmas with all the excitement of an end of term play in the background, The Flying Classroom tells of the friendships and adventures of a group of lively boys. Events include the kidnapping of one of the boys by a gang from another school, a dare devil high-jump act as a boy tries to prove that he is not a coward and the tracking down of a long lost friend of their kindly school teacher. As Christmas gets ever closer, hopes and fears are raised and, in the final pages, beautifully resolved.

A Piece of Passion from Gesche Ipsen, commissioning editor I love Erich Kästner as much now as I did when I was young. His books are so precious to me, that I will buy new copies for friends who ask to borrow them, rather than lend them my own. Even my best friends… As a child, I devoured them without coming up for air. His plots are without fail exciting, and Trier’s illustrations both handsome and subtle – but there is much more even than that to it: Kästner writes like a dream, is very, very funny, and (most importantly) never patronises his readers. His child protagonists are never ‘just’ children. They are resourceful and imaginative, clever, cheerful, funny and brave – as well as sad, anxious and fearful. They are, in short, just like adults. Which is the truth about children, and is what makes Kästner irresistible even to readers of a rather more advanced age.


The Flying Classroom by Erich Kastner

Martin's school is no ordinary school. There are snowball fights, kidnappings, cakes, a parachute jump, a mysterious man called 'No-Smoking' who lives in a railway carriage and a play about a flying classroom. As the Christmas holidays draw near, Martin and his friends - nervous Uli, cynical Sebastian, Johnny, who was rescued by a sea captain, and Matthias, who is always hungry (particularly after a meal) - are preparing for the end-of-term festivities. But there are surprises, sadness and trouble on the way - and a secret that changes everything.

The Flying Classroom is a magical, thrilling and bittersweet story about friendship, fun and being brave when you are at your most scared. (It also features a calf called Eduard, but you will have to read it to find out why.)

Anthea Bell is an award-winning translator. Having studied English at Oxford University, she has had a long and successful career, translating works from French, German and Danish. She is best known for her translations of the much-loved Asterix books, Stefan Zweig and W.G. Sebald.


A treasure-trove of childhood reading Huffington Post

Walter Trier's deceptively innocent drawings are as classic as Kastner's words; I never tire of them -- Quentin Blake

Praise for Emil and the Detectives:

'Marvellous' Philip Pullman (in the Independent's 'The 50 books every child should read');

'My favourite book as a child...funny, exciting and very atmospheric' Michael Rosen;

'A little masterpiece...Read it and you will be happy' Maurice Sendak

About the Author

Erich Kastner

Erich Kästner began his career as a journalist and, later, a freelance theatre critic. In 1929 he published his first book for children, Emil and the Detectives, which has since been translated into nearly 60 languages and sold millions of copies around the world. He then went on to publish Dot and Anton in 1931 and The Flying Classroom in 1933, both illustrated by Walter Trier, whose elegant, perceptive illustrations grace numerous Kästner books.

After the Nazis took power in Germany, Kästner’s books – thinly veiled critiques of society’s fall to fascism – were denounced and burnt. He faced repeated arrest and interrogation by the Gestapo, resulting in his blacklisting and exclusion from the writers’ guild. As such, his stories celebrate democracy, kindness, independent thinking and courage, and denounce unfairness, bullying, assumed authority and tyranny of any kind.

After the end of World War II, Kästner moved to Munich and published The Parent Trap, later adapted into a hit film by Walt Disney. In 1957 he received the Georg Büchner Prize and, later, the Order of Merit and the Hans Christian Andersen Award for his contribution to children’s literature. One of the best loved and most read children’s authors around the world, Kästner died in Munich in 1974.

Erich Kästner is the only writer known to have been present at the burning of his own books (‘Against decadence and the decline of morals!’ they yelled), on Berlin’s Opernplatz on 10 May 1933:

‘… And then Goebbels appeared. He stood in front of a balustrade besieged by microphones and gesticulated before the light of the fire like a little devil before Hell. He vociferated and spouted, called writers by their names and committed their books to the flames and oblivion. This was no Grand Inquisitor, but a little molesting pyrotechnician… Our intention to attend this apocalyptic public festival, as thorough chroniclers, to the end was thwarted by an unforeseen episode. ‘There’s Kästner!’ a young woman called out suddenly, as she passed by with her boyfriend. Her surprise at seeing me, so to speak, among the mourners at my own funeral, was so great that she even pointed at me. I must admit that I didn’t feel exactly comfortable. Shortly before, someone else had already called my name, loudly – that student of Gundolf’s, on his microphone-besieged balustrade…’ (from ‘Can Books Be Burnt? On the Anniversary of an Outrage’, 1947; published in On the Burning of Books, Atrium Verlag, 2013)

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Book Info


224 pages


Erich Kastner
More books by Erich Kastner


Publication date

5th January 1995




Publisher Profile

Pushkin Children's Books is an imprint of Pushkin Children's Books


Pushkin Children's Books was launched in 2013 to share tales from different languages and cultures with younger readers, and to open the door to the wide, colourful worlds these stories offer. From picture books and adventure stories to fairy tales and classics, and from fifty-year-old bestsellers to current huge successes abroad, the books on the Pushkin Childrens list reflect the very best stories from around the world, for our most discerning readers of all: children. Twitter @PushkinPress

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