'Walter Trier's deceptively innocent drawings are as classic as Kastner's words; I never tire of them' Quentin Blake Martin's school is no ordinary school. There are snowball fights, kidnappings, cakes, a parachute jump, a mysterious man called 'No-Smoking' who lives in a railway carriage and a play about a flying classroom. As the Christmas holidays draw near, Martin and his friends - nervous Uli, cynical Sebastian, Johnny, who was rescued by a sea captain, and Matthias, who is always hungry (particularly after a meal) - are preparing for the end-of-term festivities. But there are surprises, sadness and trouble on the way - and a secret that changes everything. The Flying Classroom is a magical, thrilling and bittersweet story about friendship, fun and being brave when you are at your most scared. (It also features a calf called Eduard, but you will have to read it to find out why.) Erich Kastner, writer, poet and journalist, was born in Dresden in 1899. His first children's book, Emil and the Detectives, was published in 1929 and has since sold millions of copies around the world and been translated into around 60 languages. After the Nazis took power in Germany, Kastner's books were burnt and he was excluded from the writers' guild. He won many awards, including the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1960. He died in 1974. Walter Trier was born in Prague in 1880. In 1910 he moved to Berlin, where he would later be introduced to Kastner, and began his career drawing cartoons for the Berliner Illustrated. He also contributed to the satirical weekly Simplicissimus, where during the 1920s, despite great personal risk, he ridiculed Hitler and the Nazi Party in a series of cartoons. In 1936 he fled to London, where he was involved in producing anti-Nazi leaflets and political propaganda drawings. He would go on to have a rich career, producing around 150 covers for the humorous magazine Lilliput. He died in 1951 in Ontario, Canada. Anthea Bell is an award-winning translator. Having studied English at Oxford University, she has had a long and successful career, translating works from French, German and Danish. She is best known for her translations of the much-loved Asterix books, Stefan Zweig and W.G. Sebald.