by Erich Kastner
Barnes and Noble Books, 2004 (reissue from 1929). 192 pgs. Fiction.
Emil rides the train to Berlin to take some very hard-earned money from his mother to his grandmother. Because he has it in an envelope pinned inside his suit coat, he thinks it is safe, but he falls asleep sitting in a train compartment with a man with a bowler hat, and when he wakes up, the money is gone! Because he and his friends had recently drawn a mustache and a red nose on the Grand Duke Charles's monument in his village, he doesn't dare go to the police in case he is a Wanted Boy, so he leaps off the train at the wrong station and follows the thief. Emil's adventures as he collects an army of children to help him bring the Bowler Hat Man to justice are classic children's fare. Contemporary kids may be brought up short by the casual and benign tyrannies of children working/playing together, not that real kids don't boss each other around, but in much fiction we pretend they don't. Emil is a classic which children might best enjoy read aloud and adults will surely enjoy reading.