Roughly translated, the full title of this book means ‘When I go to school, you see something I don’t see’ (the German title is Wenn ich in die Schule geh, siehst du was, was ich nicht seh). And that is absolutely true in this story of two children collecting their friends on their way to school. They see only the outside of each house they knock at – but we, the readers, have the privilege of seeing right inside the building, as if the walls had simply melted away.
We start at the protagonists’ home, where their mum and dad are finishing breakfast and waving them goodbye. We see clues to the family’s interests, with a guitar leaning against the table and a pile of books tottering on the top of a cupboard.
Once outside, as the two children gather their friends, we see a range of other homes, beginning with a fisherman’s house. There is a fishing rod sticking out of a window, a fish being gutted on the table and, rather disturbingly, another fish waving from a pail.
As the children move on we see inside some farm buildings, a car garage, two circus caravans, a baker’s, a pet shop and a flower kiosk.
Finally the children arrive at the school and politely take their places at the desks. The day is ready to begin.
As well as all the different types of children and styles of houses to spot, there are many animals to find (including several alligators and a little black cat that follows the children on their journey), various wall paintings, posters, statues and children’s drawings to see, and other people going about their daily business. It’s also fun to work out which children are particular friends, who they like to walk with, and what games they like to play. Oh, and don’t miss the school ghost!