The Flying Classroom – Erich Kästner, A Beautiful Story from 1933

I can confidently say that The Flying Classroom is one of the books that will make children love reading. I think every child will love it, because of its captivating characters, sincere and fun narration and excellent subject. I am sure that adults will love The Flying Classroom as well; it is already among the must-read children’s classics.


The Flying Classroom begins with the introduction of an author trying to write a New Year’s story. He is annoyed that children’s books are always happy. He knows that the children also get angry, upset and feel bad and so he begins to write a story accordingly.

The Flying Classroom - Erich Kästner

In this beautiful story, both sadness and happiness go hand in hand. The Flying Classroom is about what happened to a group of students at a boys’ boarding school. Each child has a variety of habits and a great school principal that they all admire. The principal is also a person who has studied at this school and is very fond of justice. His bond with the children is so strong that we see how much they admire him, from the most mischievous to the smartest. And it is a pleasure to read about this bond.

The Flying Classroom is full of surprises, and it drags you into the pleasant atmosphere of boarding schools. It manages to explain with delightful humour how vital friendship, justice and little favours are. I hope you read it as soon as possible. Enjoy!

The Flying Classroom - Erich Kästner

The Flying Classroom

‘Walter Trier’s deceptively innocent drawings are as classic as Kästner’s words; I never tire of them’ Quentin Blake

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.)

‘There are so many books where it’s the combination of author and illustrator that makes you love them. In the case of The Flying Classroom and The Parent Trap… it’s the combo of author, illustrator and translator. The bold line drawings by Walter Trier are the work of genius… As for the stories, if you’re a fan of Emil and the Detectives, then you’ll find these just as spirited’ Melanie McDonagh, Spectator Children’s Books of the Year

‘A treasure-trove of childhood reading’ Huffington Post

‘Walter Trier’s deceptively innocent drawings are as classic as Kästner’s words; I never tire of them’ Quentin Blake

Eric Kästner

Erich Kästner, (born Feb. 23, 1899, Dresden, Ger.—died July 29, 1974, Munich), German satirist, poet, and novelist who is especially known for his children’s books. He was the most durable practitioner of the style of witty, laconic writing associated with the highbrow cabaret, the Berlin weekly Die Weltbühne (“The World Stage”), and the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) movement of the mid-1920s.

Kästner studied at Rostock, Leipzig, and Berlin to become a teacher. Later, as a journalist, he became a free-lance writer (1927). Four volumes of light but fundamentally serious poetry appeared before 1933. He also wrote the remarkable tragic novel Fabian (1931). His children’s books are notable for their humour and respect for the child’s moral seriousness. The most famous of these, Emil und die Detektive (1929; Emil and the Detectives), was several times dramatized and filmed. Prevented by the Nazis from publishing in Germany (1933–45), he printed his works in Switzerland. After the war, Kästner became magazine editor of Die Neue Zeitung of Munich and subsequently founded a children’s paper.

From 1952 to 1962 he was president of the German branch of PEN, an international organization of writers. His post-World War II works are characterized by a greater emphasis on social philosophy but do not sacrifice their elegance and entertaining qualities. These include Das doppelte Lottchen (1950; “The Double Lottie”); Zu treuen Händen (1950; “Into Faithful Hands”); the play Die Schule der Diktatoren (1956; “The School of Dictators”); and Als ich ein kleiner Junge war (1957; “When I Was a Young Man”). Kästner’s collected works, Gesammelte Schriften, 7 vol., appeared in 1959.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Children’s Books for Life!

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