Jonathan Hennessey

Author Jonathan Hennessey recommends Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner. “In a landscape where the scope and stakes of middle-grade fiction tend to balloon out of proportion, Emil and the Detectives is delightfully human-scaled. A small town boy falls in with a brigade of city kids to get back an envelope of money destined for his ailing grandmother—but which is pinched in a train car by a nasty villain. I love how the hero straddles innocence and beyond-his-years wisdom, responsibility and rascality. But what I like best is the reminder that kids have a much keener sense of fairness and justice than most adults do. Kästner’s overlooked classic thrills with how invigorating it can be for kids to fight together to get morally compromised grownups in line.”

Emil and the Detectives (first published in 1930) is recommended for ages 8-12.

Be sure to check out Hennessey’s book The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation, illustrated by Aaron McConnell (Hill & Wang, 2008).

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