“The Flying Classroom” is a novel about the faith of five boys who were in a boarding school in Germany. They were all fifth graders. “The Flying Classroom” is actually the title of a play written by Johnny Trotz which the boys were supposed to perform at the Christmas celebrations. In the boarding school we meet many interesting characters such as Johnny, a boy without parents, Matthias, who is always hungry, frightful Uli, the smartest one is Martin and Sebastian and many others.
At the beginning of the novel the author warns us not to be fooled and to look misfortune right in the eyes because we need to learn how to be brave.
The boys often get into conflicts and get out of them smarter and braver. They have an interesting relationship with their educator Justus (which would translate from Latin as righteous). The moral of the novel is the importance of friendship, humanity, warmth, and comprehension.
Genre: children’s novel
Place: Zugspitz and the boarding school in Kirchberg
Time: around Christmas
Theme: life of five boys in a boarding school
The novel begins with an introduction which is divided into two parts. In the first part we find out that the author wanted to write a Christmas story but that it was hard for him since it was summer. The author’s mother went to the train station to ask for a ticket to any place in the world where there was snow. The train station employee told them that they could find snow in Zugspitz. The author bought the ticket and spent his days in Zugspitz writing and he was accompanied by the butterfly Gottfried and a calf Eduard.
In the second part of the introduction the author disagrees with kids being happy all the time. He tells us that in his Christmas story a boy Jonathan Trotz will appear. He was born in New York, his mother was American and his father was German and since the two of them didn’t get along they split up. When Johnny was four his father took him to the New York port and gave him a ticket to Germany. Since no one was waiting for the boy in Germany the captain took him to his sister’s and when he was ten he was placed into the boarding school Johann Sigismund. The author advises kids on how to be happy and not to fool themselves. They were supposed to learn how to take a hit and still stay on their feet.
After the two-part introduction, the novel starts. We meet Matthias Selbmann who is always hungry and Uli von Simmern, a blond boy who gave him money. Christmas was in the air. The older students would go to a mysterious hill where, according to legends, were the mysterious German stones while the younger students would stay in their rooms. Johnny Trotz was the author of a Christmas play, and Martin Thaler was in charge of the scenery. They were supposed to put up their play in the gymnasium, but the students who danced there stood up against them.
Martin fought back by saying that they got permission from doctor Bokh. The title of the play was “The Flying Classroom” and it described the school in the future. It was made in 5 acts. In the first one the students went on a journey with their professor, played by Sebastian Frank. I9n the second one they came to the Vesuvius where the professor gave a lecture about volcanoes and Pompeii. Later they go to Giza to see the pyramids where Johnny assumed the role of Ramses the II who kidnapped a girl played by Uli Simmern. In the fourth act they come to the North pole and in the fifth they go to heaven to Saint Peter who returned the girl from Ramses the II. all of the sudden the boys were rehearsing the last act when the doors opened and Fridolin came in with bloody hands and face. Some students attacked him and Kreuzkamm, who got kidnapped, and they took their notebooks.
After that, we meet the Nonsmoker. Johnny wanted to bring him a Christmas present. They boys bought him socks, tobacco, cigarettes and a black cardigan. The boys loved him, and they would often ask him for advice, and they asked him about Kreuzkamm being kidnapped. Fridolin went to Kreuzkamm’s house to see if he came home and then he had to go to Egerland where the other boys were waiting for him. Nonsmoker wanted to know why was Kreuzkamm kidnapped so Johnny told him all about them stealing their flag and brought it back torn apart.
The boys went to Egerland and they encountered some boys from the third grade and they told them where they’ll meet in 15 minutes. Soon after Frodolin came to let them know that Kreuzkamm was still not back. Sebastian Frank went to to Egerland and relizes Kreuzkamm was tied up in the basement because Egerland’s sister unintentionally told him. Sebastian asked for Kreuzkamm to be given back to them but the other side had some conditions. The boys were supposed to write a letter of apology for the flag and ask nicely to get back the prisoner. Sebastian didn’t accept the conditions. The boys agreed that they needed to strike immediately and then Nonsmoker told them that picking a fight is a bad idea because the police is bound to get involved. He advised him to pick to boys on every side who will fight. The boys chose Matthias to be their representative.
They agreed that if they win the other side will have to let their friend go and return their notebook with no conditions, and if they lost the other side will have to negotiate with them. Matthias won in the end and Egerland told him that his boys will not liberate their friend. A bigger fight had to happen. Martin gathered the boys and told them to throw snowballs. In the meantime Martin, Johnny and Matthias went to Egerland’s place and freed their friends but they couldn’t save their notebooks because they were burned. The boys won in the end.
After the fight the boys went to the school. Theodor was in the entrance and they told him that they went to see a movie. Theodor took them to see doctor Bokh. He asked them about a house rule that could be applied to their situation. The boys knew they weren’t allowed to leave the school without a teacher’s permission. Sebastian explained that they did it to save a friend. Justus decided to take into account the circumstances under which the boys were pressured to leave the school and he grounded them until the first free afternoon which they will be spending in his office.
After giving them their punishment he told them a story about a boy who left school every day to visit his ill mother. He didn’t care about punishments and boundaries because he just had to see her every day. One day the headmaster punished him with two days in jail and when he came to see him next day a completely different boy was sitting in jail. It was the fugitive’s friend and the told what was happening with his friend’s mother. Those two friends kept on hanging out after school and they were even on each other’s weeding day but then one of them got a child who died soon after it was born and his wife also died. The day after the funeral his friend went missing. The boys realized that Justus was talking about himself. Johnny realized his friend was Nonsmoker.
Martin painted a picture for his parents and called it “For ten years”. All agreed that it was a beautiful picture. The boys whispered and talked about the headmaster who always told the same joke about the Moon. After dinner, they went to their rooms and soon after ghosts entered in. The ghosts were actually seniors pulling out a prank.
Now we meet professor Kreuzkamm who is known to be a weird man because he never laughs. Nevertheless everyone had to laugh at what he had to say. Few students placed Uli into a garbage can and hanged him on two hooks which served to put up geographic maps. Matthias couldn’t help him because four other kids were guarding him. Professor Kreuzmann acted as if nothing was wrong and he called out Uli’s name when he needed him to spell out a word. The next thing he said was that mischief wasn’t only the fault of those who did it but also of those who didn’t stop it. Everyone had to write down that sentence five times. After that he gave them a short exam. After lunch Martin and Johnny went to Justus and asked him to take a walk with them. They brought him to see Nonsmoker in which Justus recognized his friend Robert.
The boys had their final rehearsal which was going great. They were all satisfied until Uli went missing. He went to the playground, climbed up the ladder while holding an umbrella high above his head. He wanted to show everyone that he wasn’t a coward so he jumped. His friends gathered around him because they thought he was dead. Johnny ran to get the nurse while Martin went to see Nonsmoker. Uli broke a leg, hurt his chest and wasn’t able to go home for the holidays. Martin got a letter from his mother saying he won’t be able to come home for Christmas because they can’t afford his trip.
The boys agreed that Uli would play Stocker, a third-grade student. Martin was very sad about not being able to go home so his attitude changed and he didn’t want to tell his friends what was bothering him. The day of the Christmas ceremony came, and it was even more than everyone expected. Johnny’s play was great, and Justus presented Robert as the new school doctor.
On Christmas Eve everyone was going home except for Johnny, Uli, and Martin who still hasn’t told his friends the true reason for him staying in boarding school during the holidays. Justus was walking around the park when he saw Martin and asked him why he wasn’t going home and Martin finally told the truth. Justus bought him a ticket and some money to buy his family presents. In the end we meet Martin’s parents Herman and Margaret who were very sad about not seeing their little boy for Christmas. When they heard knocking and saw Martin entering they were thrilled. The whole family decided to take a walk and send Justus a letter of gratitude.
The author speaks to us again. He is back in Berlin, and he met Johnny and a naval officer. The writer remembers everything that had happened in the last two years and Johnny told him about Martin still being the smartest one in class. Uli was still a bit weird, but he had a Matthias kept on eating and training box twice a week.
Johann Bokh – Justus was a boarding school professor. The boys loved him a lot, and he didn’t punish them after they left the boarding school without any authorization because they had a good reason to do it. He was also in a boarding school while his mother was ill so he would always run away just to see her. He had one real friend, and he was reunited with him by the boys. He offered Rober, his friend, a job as a doctor in the boarding school and they spent Christmas together. He gave Martin enough money to go home for Christmas.
Nonsmoker was a man whose real name was a mystery for the boys so they gave him the nickname. He would spend his days working with his flowers in the garden and he would often lay down in the grass and read books. The boys would always come to him for advice. He was about 34 and he played the piano in a restaurant. Later on we find out his name – Robert Uthoff. He was a doctor and after his child and wife passed away he couldn’t get back up on his feet again. Robert was an old friend of Justus who gives him a job in the boarding school
Johnny Trotz’s mother was an American and his father was German. His mother abandoned him when he was a little boy and his father sent him back to Germany when he was four. A ship captain took him in as his own and placed him into the boarding school. His best friend was Martin and he also hung out with Matthias, Sebastian, Uli. He was a talented writer and he wrote a play called “The Flying Classroom”. He loved Justus and Nonsmoker to which he bought a Christmas present from his friends.
Matthias Selbmann was a fifth grader who was always hungry. He was brave and strong. He fought for his friend. Matthias would often borrow money from his friends to buy food but as soon as his family would send him some money he would give it all back, and he would even treat his friends.
Uli von Simmern was a blond boy. He would give anything to be as brave as Matthias but as soon as the going gets though he disappears. He wanted to impress others and show how strong he was so he jumped for a ladder holding an umbrella and ended up breaking his leg.
Martin Thaller was the smartest kid in class. Everyone though he was hard working. He was the best in school and always made time for his friends, so he ended up in a few fights with them. He paid only half of the tuition bill. He was very sad about not going home for Christmas, but Justus saved the day.
Sebastian Frank always had something to say. He was one of the students who had to write down professor Kreuzkamm’s sentence 50 times. He admitted to being frightful, but he wasn’t ashamed of his lack of courage. He was interested in chemistry and electrons.
Professor Kreuzkamm was a weird man who never laughed, but everyone could learn a lot from his classes.
Erich Kästner Biography
Erich Kästner was born in 1899 in Dresden, Germany. He had the title of one of the best children author.
He went to school in Berlin and Leipzig where he studied German and Roman languages, and he also had a master in philosophy.
He always wanted to become a writer, but he became an author and a journalist. He was a novel writer, script writer, play writer and a poet.
He became famous by the book Emil and the detectives that was his first book. He wrote it when he was 29. It has been translated into many languages and also some movies were filmed by it.
From his other novels, we have Emil and the Three Twins, Lottie and Lisa… He died in 1947.