This entry is part 12 of 14 in the series Chazda Bookshelf

The Story Form

This fun detective-ghost story is a bilingual one, meant to help German speakers learn better English. As a writer living abroad surrounded by a language that is for me still foreign in many ways, I think this book and the educational concept behind it is just wonderful: it’s written with narrative in the native tongue and the dialogue almost entirely in the second language, the language that is specific to the story setting. Footnotes with definitions of new vocabulary are at the bottom of almost every page.

Detective Invisible-Kommisar Unsichtbar Cover

Title Detective Invisible – Kommissar Unsichtbar

Rating Overall (5 Star Rating)

The Creators

This is a novel for early readers with simple black and white illustrations scattered throughout. There are approximately 2-3 illustrations for each chapter, created by the very prolific and talented Jörg Hartmann. His decision to use round, slightly calligraphic lines and simple forms are a good match for this story.corinna-wieja

The author Corinna Wieja is a certified German-English translator, and in this first book of what I hope will be a very long series, the young Josy must relocate to England with her mother Sabine. Wieja has written other stories for other publishing houses, but this is the first one involving Detective Smartypants.

The Creators

Author Corinna Wieja

Illustrator Jörg Hartmann

The Story Set-Up

Young Josy and her mother Sabine have inherited a large house (called Pyeville Manor) in England from their wealthy and eccentric Aunt Feodora, and they now plan to open a Bed and Breakfast there, as was their aunt’s dying wish.

But there are strange things afoot, and some rather suspicious characters in Pyeville. Aunt Feodora mentions in her Will that a ghost is living in her house… and something about an old unsolved mystery involving a large ruby brooch. It’s all wonderfully mysterious!

The Players

Protagonist: JoseUncle Edward is the money-grubber, enraged to discover that he will not be the one to inherit Pyeville Manor. The housekeeper Mrs. Summer is a little questionable at first and a grumpy gardener named Partridge is best left alone. Then our hero Josy discovers there is indeed a muffin-gobbling ghost living in Pyeville Manor, a Detective Jonathan Smartypants.Jonathan Smartypants-Ghost Detective

Josy befriends both the ghost and the housekeeper’s grandson Jared. Together, the kids work with Detective Smartypants to solve a very old crime.

Critic Summary / What Readers Need To Know

This is a well-constructed story, one that my daughter and I enjoyed very much. She is not yet of reading age, but she is bilingual. Reading a bilingual book about a Mom and Daughter team was for us immediately relatable. The story plot moves forward at a nice pace, appropriate for bedtime reading even though there is a mystery involved. There’s nothing too overly scary and no one gets hurt in any way. This is a traditional “Cozy,” a sort of Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie type story for young readers.

This book makes for a cozy story with easy to like characters and a fun mystery to solve that makes for very enjoyable reading. I would recommend this book for ages 6 and up.

Our Age Suggestion

Age 6 + 6 and up

Publishers Recommended Age
School kids

Publisher: Langenscheidt

What Children Can Learn From This Book

How to improve a better understanding of German &/or English I would say is the primary goal of this book and they achieved it. Secondarily I would say that kids also learn how to persevere a difficult situation in life, such as moving to another country.

What Authors Can Learn From This Book

For any bilingual writer this is an excellent example of how to structure a novel for kids so that a real story can be told while expanding vocabulary in a second language.

What Illustrators Can Learn From This Book

Simple lines that are friendly looking make a potentially gruesome ghost story immediately non-threatening. It informs the reader that they needn’t be afraid of the characters or for them.

Educational Value

Linguistic skills are exercised here for native German speakers who would like to expand their English vocabulary. It’s a very natural use of modern, conversational English.

Positive Messages

Friendship plays an important role in this story, as does the value of finishing what you started. Philosophically the book also touches upon identity through purpose. The detective protagonist returns in ghost form to continue solving crimes because that is what he does best.

Positive Role Models

The key players and supporting characters are very positive role models of good character. There are bad guys but you are not meant to like them.

Frightening/Intense Scenes

The climactic moment when the bad guy tries to get the treasure back is exciting but not frightening. Though this is a ghost story, the one ghost is a key player with dialogue, not a scary figure. There is nothing gruesome in this story.

At A Glance

InfoGraphic for Detective Invisible - Kommisar Unsichtbar Book Review

Release Date

September 2012

Topics / Tags

German, English, ghost story, mystery for kids

Book Type / Genre

A cozy (a mystery) for kids.

ISBN: 978-3-468-20892-8

Number of Pages: 120


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This entry is part of the series
Chazda Bookshelf
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