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Emil and the Detectives (Emil #1)

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3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  5,838 Ratings  ·  278 Reviews
On the train, his fellow passengers are impressed with how polite and grown-up Emil is, and the man in the bowler hat offers him some chocolate—but Emil keeps checking his coat pocket, where he’s pinned the money that he is taking to his grandmother. Soon, though, Emil finds himself getting sleepy . . . and the next thing he knows, the man in the bowler hat is gone— and so ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published November 1st 2007 by The Overlook Press (first published 1928)
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) No indeed! It's all fun and laughs. I first read it at seven or so and thought it was great.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Manny
I read this German children's classic while the Greek debt drama of July 2015 was unfolding; I would finish a chapter, go to the Daily Telegraph live blog, catch up on the latest news from Brussels, then return to Emil.

The people reporting on the political story were eager to cast the Germans, particularly the hardline Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, as the villains. I read many pieces about how Schäuble was imposing unreasonable and humiliating conditions on the Greeks, and when one looked
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Miriam
May 05, 2017 Miriam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, phew! I was really worried there for quite a few pages.

So many aspects of the book are highly realistic, Emil's personality and relationship with his mother, and their money worries, that I was afraid that in the end (view spoiler)
...more
Richard
Apr 27, 2017 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This is a book that I saw and had to buy and read.
It represents a time in my life when I was too busy playing sport or out with mates to read books. I was also lazy and lacked confidence even to read in class but I always liked stories. This was a book that I remember from my youth like, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, Brer Rabbit and a wooden horse who collected money somehow and worked down a pit and went to war. Emil and the Detectives was a story that resonated with me, perhaps as it is about crim
...more
Manybooks
Please note that Emil's exploits, that the story itself, in its German original, while never a personal favourite, is and will always remain a solid three star read for me (enjoyable, but not spectacular). The above two star rating is simply because the new 2007 translation by W. Martin leaves so very much to be desired (especially for someone like me who likes her translations as close to the original as possible and not updated or altered all that much). My review will thus be in two parts (fi ...more
Manybooks
First published in 1929, Erich Kästner's Emil und die Detektive (Emil and the Detectives) especially and brilliantly sparkles and glows with its sense of time and place, with its urban realism, its palpably authentic and genuine representation and description of Berlin (the capital city of the Germany of the Weimar Republic, a lively and throbbing modern metropolis, and not some vague environs set in either a magical present or a distant historical past).

Also and for me personally, reading abou
...more
Ivonne Rovira
Jun 28, 2015 Ivonne Rovira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ivonne by: Manny Rayner
I’ve been wanting to read this book since Disney aired its 1964 film version on television when I was a child myself (late 1960s or early 1970s). But I put it off for literally decades until the excellent Manny Rayner reminded me of the book’s existence. How sorry I am that I didn’t read this delightful little book sooner!

Considering the book was first released in 1929, this tale of a poor boy who loses a large sum, but is aided in its recovery, has aged magnificently. Young Emil Tabletoe takes
...more
Manybooks
GENERAL THOUGHTS ON EMIL AND THE DETECTIVES (BASED ON THE GERMAN ORIGINAL)

First published in 1929, Erich Kästner's Emil und die Detektive (Emil and the Detectives in English translations) especially and brilliantly sparkles and glows with its sense of time and place, with its urban realism, its palpably authentic and genuine representation and description of Berlin (the capital city of the Germany of the Weimar Republic, a lively and throbbing modern metropolis, and not some vague environs set i
...more
Matt
Sep 14, 2015 Matt marked it as to-be-considered  ·  review of another edition
This is more like a review-by-proxy of Emil and the detectives.

I watched a program on youtube in which Marcel Reich-Ranicki, without doubt the most famous German literary critc of his time, is talking about German authors; this time about Erich Kästner. Of course he also had something to say about "Emil". Born in Poland in 1920 with a Polish father and German mother, the family moved to Berlin in the late 1920s. Here little Marcel learned to read German. Although he sort of liked the usual books
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Jan-Maat
There are two things that strike me in particular: the ability and sense of responsibility of the children to organise themselves and the hero's sense of responsibility towards his mother and his family - not surprising given als ich ein kleiner Junge war.

It's a simple story of a boy from a small town going to visit relatives in the big city. Entertaining and engaging. The hero's fear of going to the police because he had drawn a mustache on a statue always felt realistic to me as a child.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)

This review is for the wonderful Scholastic edition, not the rotten 2007 edition . GR's stupid software updates have decided that they know better than me. For the review of the horrible 2007 edition, check the Scholastic cover. I tried to fix the confusion and made it worse. Sheesh.
Aaaaahhhh, that's better.

This is the translation of Emil that I grew up reading. My brother bought it from Scolastic back in the late 60s and I read it over and over again.

Fast forward 3 or 4 decades and I bought it
...more
Nola
Apr 07, 2015 Nola rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
While travelling by train to visit his grandmother in Berlin, young Emil falls asleep. When he awakes, the money pinned inside his coat is gone, along with the bowler-hatted stranger who'd been sitting across from him. When Emil spots the man getting off the train at another station, he heads off in pursuit. Along the way, he meets up with a group of boys (the detectives) and together they set out to trap the thief.

I've been reading a book called '501 Must-Read Books' and when it mentioned 'Emil
...more
Sandy
Oct 07, 2011 Sandy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book haunts me. In a few short years their lives will be completely changed. No more individualism or self determination, but instead a rigorous recruiting into an ideology of race superiority and military might. In this children’s book, there are many clues to how this may have come about. There are also startling differences between the children detectives in Berlin and the Hitler Youth they will become. Even though the society is being primed for a radical change, Emil and the Detectives ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Emil und die Detektive=Emil and the delectives, Erich Kästner
عنوان: امیل و کارآگاهان؛ نویسنده: اریش کستنر؛ مترجم: مژگان عبداللهی؛ تهران، هرمس، 1377، در 141 ص؛ شابک: 9646641369؛ چاپ دوم 1378؛
امیل برای گذراندن تعطیلات با قطار به نزد مادر بزرگ و خاله اش به برلین میرود. پدرش را از دست داده و زندگی را با مادرش که در یک آرایشگاه زنانه کار میکند میگذراند. ثروتمند نیستند. باید برای خرج پولشان برنامه داشته باشند. امیل درستکار است و مهربان و برای کار و تلاش مادرش ارزش قائل است. در کوپه قطار، او با وسواس
...more
Laura
From BBC radio 4 - Saturday Drama:
Dramatisation by Katie Hims of the comic children's detective novel by Erich Kaestner.

Country boy Emil Tischbein, up from Neustadt for the first time, enlists the aid of hundreds of Berlin street boys to help him catch a thief.
The Library Lady
Sep 21, 2016 The Library Lady rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Let me be clear: I am not giving one star to Erich Kastner's original, marvelous book, one of my childhood favorites. You can find that here.

I am giving it to this "updated" translation, which tries to make Emil and his friends talk like 21st century kids, and gives English versions of many of the names. Emil Tischbein becomes "Emil Tabletoe," poor Pony Hutchen becomes "Pony the Hat," and Gustav is renamed "Gus" and declares "I'm pysched!" at one point.

Not me. I'm not psyched. I am, in the word
...more
Nisha Vinod
Mar 09, 2015 Nisha Vinod rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Erich Kastner had written Emil and the Detectives originally in German. The book was very popular. But during Hitler's time, his books were branded anti-german and several copies consigned to flames. Luckily, the book outlasted those dark times and Emil survived to spy another day.

Emil is one of the first fictional child detectives. Today, we have 'The Famous Five', ' Alex Rider', 'Nancy Drew... But little Emil was the first. Philip Pullman remarked that the book is ' democracy in action' and
...more
Cheryl
Aug 05, 2016 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
And to think that these boys grew up to serve the Führer. But I'll try to set that thought aside.

A classic that doesn't age well. Pony, the girl cousin with the bicycle, is the most energetic and brave of all, but is delighted to be the one to make coffee and serve rolls to the boys, and to serve the cause primarily as liaison to the adults. The boys have entirely too much freedom... the 'sensibleness' of the more liberal parents is explained frighteningly convincingly. And there's so much good
...more
Judith Johnson
Oct 13, 2016 Judith Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this when I was about 10, and it was fun reading it again, and a change from that other, grimmer Berlin detective, Bernie Gunther... I feel sad, though, when I reflect that of all the little boys (and girls, of course) that read it in 1929 in German, and then in 1931 in England when it came out here, many would have been at war with each other 10 years later when they were young men. We were all innocent children once ...
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
This review is for the rotten 2007 edition, not the wonderful Scholastic edition. GR's stupid software updates have decided that they know better than me. For the review of the Scholastic edition, check the 2007 cover. I tried to fix the confusion and made it worse. Sheesh.

Three and a half stars for the edition, not the story. The story would be a definite five, but it has been spoilt by a modernised translation. Why the editors felt they had to translate German surnames into English I will neve
...more
Roxana-Mălina Chirilă
"Oh no," I tutted to myself when Emil kept checking to see if his money was still in his pocket, afraid that he might lose it before getting to grandma. "Oh no, you're signalling every thief around that you have an envelope full of money. Tut, tut, don't do that."

So of course his money gets stolen and my heart clenches as Emil from the small town runs through Berlin in search of his thief.

I really enjoyed the story, with its lovingly described characters, and with the insanity of a whole crowd
...more
Donna Radcliff
Originally published in 1929 in pre-war Germany, this classic childrens adventure follows Emil as he travels to Berlin to visit his grandmother and has all of his money stolen by a sneak thief who is part of an organized gang lead by The Baron, and the children (detectives) that help him to apprehend the bad guys. Released in 1964 as a Disney movie, it starred Brian Russell, Roger Mobley and Walter Slezak. I saw the movie (I was twelve and in love with Roger Mobley) and immediately got the movie ...more
Serena
Aug 20, 2013 Serena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Emil and the Detectives centers on a good-natured boy who defies expectations in his honesty, familial piety and determination. Erich Kastner captures the rambunctiousness and excitement of youth as he leads the readers through the adventures of Emil as he joins with a team of organized street detectives who are mere children as they spy on the man who robbed Emil whilst he slept. Kastner's sense of humor pervades the story from the beginning as he vexes over coming up with a plot, and his sense ...more
John Mccullough
Nov 14, 2014 John Mccullough rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a charming children's book published in 1929 in Germany, authored by a person whose writings were burned by the Nazis. Emil survived, my grandchildren will be pleased to find. Emil is given 7 pounds and told to personally deliver it to his grandmother, minus some rewards for him. On the train a man in a bowler hat and moustache (of course!!) stole Emil's money. Will he be able to get it back? Read and find out!! Reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes' Baker Street Irregulars with a good dollop o ...more
Steve
Sep 25, 2010 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: germany, childrens
A nostalgic hour on ebay left me with a Cathy Dennis cd, a box of panini stickers, and a beautiful 1964 paperback of Emil and the Detectives.

On the introduction page it reads "Forward readers of eight could tackle it, while those in their early teens still enjoy it without wanting to disguise the fact" Well i first read when 9 or 10. And 20 years later it is still an exciting and charming read. In fact in those 20 years I have read books as enjoyable as this, but probably not enjoyed anything mo
...more
Paul Servini
This is one of the first books I can remember reading. And before that I can remember my mother reading it to me. Now, I'm a parent myself and both our children have had the pleasure of saving this and other stories by the author. Sure, there are lots of reasons not to read this book. It's dated, the plot is a highly unlikely one, it represents some values we may consider old-fashioned. But despit all that it's brilliant.

A classic children's story which tells of how someone steals some money fro
...more
Racheli Zusiman
Jun 18, 2014 Racheli Zusiman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
מתוק ומקסים. לא סתם אריך קסטנר היה אחד הסופרים האהובים עליי בילדותי. גם האהבה של אמיל לאימו ריגשה אותי מאוד.
Leylee
Sep 23, 2014 Leylee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
نوجوون که بودم شاید 10 بار خوندمش.خیلی هم تاثیرگذار بود روم.چقدر دوست دارم پیداش کنم همون ورژنو و باز بخونمش
রোশনী
পলানচেট করার পলান বাদ দিয়ে বই পড়ার পলানটা সতযি দারুণ ছিল!

ধনযবাদ বোনদের রাত আড়াইটায় ঘুম থেকে না জেগে পলানচেট করার পলান পনড করার জনয।আমি কিনতু জেগেই ছিলাম!কেবল বই রেখে তোদের জাগাতে মন সায় দেয় নি।কষুদে গোয়েনদারা এমনভাবে টেনে রেখেছিল!

এমিল কি ভাল ছেলে রে, বাববা!
পরফেসার এর পাকামো এতত ভাল লেগেছে!
বাচচা টুইসডেকে গাল টিপে আদর করতে ইচছে করছিল।
গুসতভের ভেঁপু আমার শৈশবের বৈশাখী মেলার কথা মনে পড়িয়ে দিল।আমরা একধরনের মাটির বাঁশি কিনে যার তার কানের কাছে গিয়ে ফুঁ দিতাম।এমন বিকট শবদ হত!আমরাই চমকে যেতাম।যার কানের কা
...more
Amber Scaife
May 28, 2017 Amber Scaife rated it really liked it
Young Emil is off to visit his grandmother and aunt in Berlin, but has his money stolen from him on the train. He spends the rest of the book tracking down the thief, with the help of some kids he meets on the streets of Berlin.
This one is a complete hoot. Clever and witty and adorable.
Alex Baugh
Nov 14, 2011 Alex Baugh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second week of the German Literature Month challenge and for that we were supposed to read a crime novel. I considered a lot of different choices, but decided on Emil and the Detectives for one simple reason. That reason is that it is a book I haven’t read since forever and I really like Erich Kästner.

Emil and the Detectives is a pretty straightforward story. Young Emil is being sent off to Berlin to visit relatives for a week long holiday. He is taking the train and carrying money,
...more
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6519
Erich Kästner (1899 – 1974) was a German author, poet, screenwriter and satirist, known for his humorous, socially astute poetry and children's literature.

A stout pacifist and democrat, he was expelled from the national writers' guild during the Nazi era, with many of his books being burned in public. Today, he is widely regarded as one of Germany's most prolific and beloved children's book author
...more
More about Erich Kästner...

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“Eine Geschichte, ein Roman, ein Märchen - diese Dinge gleichen den Lebewesen, und vielleicht sind es sogar welche. Sie haben ihren Kopf, ihre Beine, ihren Blutkreislauf und ihren Anzug wie richtige Menschen. Und wenn ihnen die Nase im Gesicht fehlt oder wenn sie zwei verschiedene Schuhe anhaben, merkt man es bei genauem Zusehen.” 5 likes
“Und die Straßenbahn fuhr. Und sie hielt. Und sie fuhr weiter. Emil las den Namen der schönen breiten Straße. Kaiserallee hieß sie. Er fuhr und wusste nicht, wohin. Im andern Wagen saß ein Dieb. Und vielleicht saßen und standen noch andere Diebe in der Bahn. Niemand kümmerte sich um ihn. Ein fremder Herr hatte ihm zwar einen Fahrschein geschenkt. Doch nun las er schon wieder Zeitung.

Die Stadt war so groß. Und Emil war so klein. Und kein Mensch wollte wissen, warum er kein Geld hatte und warum er nicht wusste, wo er austeigen sollte. Vier Millionen Menschen lebten in Berlin und keener interessierte sich für Emil Tischbein. Niemand will von den Sorgen und Freuden genug zu tun. Und wenn man sagt: 'Das tut mir aber wirklich leid', so meint man meistens gar nichts weiter als: 'Mensch, lass mich bloß in Ruhe!'

Was würde warden? Emil schlukte schwer. Und er fühlte sich sehr, sehr allein.”
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