More urchins in the streets. More spines to stare at and very stroke-worthy they are too. I have to admit to brief moments of book stroking and general admiring of the simple and beautiful cover designs of some oldies that recently arrived at Bookwitch Towers.
Plenty of urchins where the New Cut Gang came from. Or not, since they roamed Victorian London, and we are now in 1930s Berlin in the company of Erich Kästner’s young detectives.
Here I have to admit to more strange behaviour. The witch family became Emil experts a few years ago when Son needed some project to do in German. He picked the Emil and the Detectives films, of which there are three. All in German, and by that I mean they weren’t subtitled. Very educational.
We started with the modern one, where Emil had been updated. It worked surprisingly well. The older films, from the 1930s and the 1950s were worryingly similar, although that was to do with the same script (?) being used for both.
Anyway, we have seen poor Emil lose his money over and over again. He really needs to learn to be more careful with money. And then comes Emil’s meeting with the Berlin urchins, and their subsequent hunting of the baddie and the lost money, followed by their triumphant success.
Erich Kästner’s own illustrations make this new version of Emil and the Detectives doubly attractive. The translation is from 1959, and it has translated the money into pounds, which feels slightly strange to me. You lose both the sense of foreign-ness (possibly a good thing in those days) and any sense of how much money Emil has lost when the £7 disapppear.
But its a marvellous story, which always feels fresh – in a historical, retro sort of way. (There were, as I’ve said before, more books in a similar style and setting, but it’s as if Emil is the sole representative of German books from that era in Britain.)