To The Boy in Berlin – Fantastic resource for German students

11 Sep

Last week I travelled to Melbourne for a meeting of the Professional Development Facilitators for the Goethe-Institut and also to present at the Victorian German Teacher’s Conference. It was fantastic! In fact, I would go so far as to say that I came away completely inspired and fired up, ready to boost my numbers back up in German.

One of the fabulous workshops that I attended was by Tina Wilkinson on using ‘To The Boy in Berlin’ as a text in a middle school German classroom. It’s written by Elizabeth Honey and Heike Brandt and is centred around two main characters; Henni and Leo.

The blurb on says:

To the Boy in Berlin

A funny, suspenseful novel, bursting with character and ideas: a quirky detective story about righting the wrongs of the past and fighting injustice in the present; a touching story of friendship, football and the power of the Internet.

Henni lives in Melbourne, Leo lives in Berlin.

Different countries, different lives, so far apart;

but sometimes the person furthest away is just the one you need

A postcard from Leo Schmidt? I can’t believe it. I’m trying to solve the mystery of a boy called Leopold Schmidt who migrated to Australia years ago. Leopold is long dead, but this new Leo is very much alive and kicking.

Emails fly as they explore the world according to Henni and Leo. It’s friendly and funny, but deadly serious, too. Without Leo, Henni would never unravel the dark secrets from the past. Without Henni, Leo would have to save his friend Felix single-handed.

Amazon suggests that this book is suitable for students from ages 9 and up, but as I want to incorporate German language and an investigation into internment camps during World War 1 in Australia, I am going to have a go at running it with my current Year 9 class, and possibly also my Year 8 class later next term.

You can buy an eBook copy of the book from here – if you download their free Kindle for PC here, you can actually read it using a normal PC without the need for a Kindle device. The novel costs $9.99 and will be well worth the price in my opinion.

As I don’t have a class set of these books, it would be great if my students could buy the eBooks, so that they have their own copy of the book to refer back to.

Here’s a little teaser though that I downloaded from the Amazon site – they have it there as a free preview and is publicly accessible. NB – this is all copyrighted material.

To The Boy in Berlin teaser (Year 9 students, this is your homework: please read it and add any information you find out about either Henni or Leo to your brainstorms)


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