A book for children, like the myths and folktales that tend to slide into it, is really a blueprint for dealing with life. For that reason, it might have a happy ending, because nobody ever solved a problem while believing it was hopeless. It might put the aims and the solution unrealistically high – in the same way that folktales tend to be about kings and queens – but this is because it is better to aim for the moon and get halfway there than just to aim for the roof and get halfway upstairs.

My God. Johannes, are you saying that you’re accepting this task because I asked you?’ Cabal did not reply. Instead he found a loose thread on the eiderdown and fiddled distractedly with it. Horst sat on the side of the bed, embraced his brother around the shoulders with one arm, and rubbed the top of his head with the knuckles of the other. ‘Horst!’ snapped Cabal. ‘I am no longer eight years old!’ Horst kissed him on the top of the head. ‘You’ll always be my little brother, Johannes, even if you look older than me now.

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