To celebrate World Book Day, who better than Ben Brooks, author of No.1 bestselling Stories For Boys Who Dare to be Different, to pick out his favourite childhood book?
The Flying Classroom by Erich Kästner
One book that I loved as a child was The Flying Classroom by Erich Kästner. It is the story of two warring schools, a production that must go on, and a kind man who lives in a railway carriage.
At the beginning of the book, Kästner tells you that he was an adult trying to write a story for children, and that he has gone up to the mountains to do it. There was something incredibly exciting about this for me. It felt like being invited backstage to meet the actors after a play and having those actors speak to you as an equal.
I also liked how real the world of the book felt, how there was no obvious message being thrown at you, and how normal all the kids seemed compared to some of the other stories that were around.
Reading him again, it strikes me that the adults in his books are as real as the children too, something which can sometimes be rare in children’s books, where the grown-ups are either horrifically evil or unbelievably good-hearted.
The Flying Classroom was the last book published by Erich Kästner before the Nazis took control of Germany. Under their regime, his books were banned and destroyed during mass book-burnings held throughout the country.
Ben Brooks is the author of Stories For Boys Who Dare to be Different 2, which tells the stories of 100 famous and not-so-famous men and boys who broke the mould and changed the world without slaying any dragons or rescuing any princesses.