Lottie and Lisa, twins that didn't know each other, lived in their very own separate worlds. Lisa lived with her father, a famous conductor and composer in a loud and luxurious world of Viennese artists. Lottie lived with her mother, a photography editor for a publisher firm, in a much simpler place in Munich.
The unexpected encounter of the sisters in a summer camp is the beginning of an interesting story of their role replacement game. Lottie, who lived at with her mother, went to her father and Lisa went to her mother. The incredible replacement causes many funny and dramatic situations that bring to the plot's tension and will culminate in Lottie's crisis when her father decides to marry someone else.
With a wise intrigue the girls got back their childhood in a happy and complete family after it was taken away from them because of the thoughtlessness of their parents. The kids fought actively for what their want, and even though it's unlikely for something like this to happen in the real life, they managed to make their wishes come true.
The novel starts with the description of the girl's summer camp that looks like a bee hive because everything is buzzing with laughter, whispering and giggling. The kids and they guardians go to lunch after they swam in the lake. In the afternoon they were anxiously waiting for twenty new girls that were arriving by bus.
The last girl that got off the bus opened her eyes incredulously when she saw Lisa. Lisa was even more surprised and terrified. Everyone looked a bit at the one girl and then at the other. The two of them were so similar that anybody could mistake one for another. The only thing different about them were their hairstyles. Lisa started running to the garden to get away from that awkward situation.
The principle of the camp, Miss Mathesius, tries to figure out what's going on. The girls claim not to be related and that they never saw each other before. Despite their friend encouraging them to meet, they refuse to listen about each other. Lottie is very surprised while Lisa is angry and bitter because she thought that Lottie ruined her vacation. To make things worse, the two of them end up sitting together during lunch. Lisa can't hold it in anymore so she punches Lottie under the table. The guardians make an agreement about putting them in the same bed so they would get used to each other. They stayed up all night and they turned back to each other. Lottie started crying during the night and Lisa just caressed her head gently. Even though they were holding hands they didn't look at each other.
In the morning they come to a conclusion that they confrontation isn't quite over. They decided to call it truce but there was a long way to peace. Lisa wasn't angry at Lottie anymore especially not after she made her a flower coronal. They started talking about the day they have had. They noticed that neither one of them has any other siblings. Lottie and Lisa were sitting in front of a mirror and Lottie made Lisa the same braids she had. They were amazed by their reflections in the mirror. They looked the same, like they were sisters. They heard the lunch signal and decided to make a joke. They opened the door of the cafeteria and sat down like nothing was happening. They provoked admiration and laughter with their similarity because nobody could tell them apart.
The double Lottie was destined to be remembered so they got a permission to visit a photographer so they would have a picture to take home. The photographer found them so interesting that he even suggested to his wife that they should send their image to a magazine he knew would find this story interesting.
They went to drink lemonade and they talked. Lisa asked Lottie is her father dead for a long time but she said she knew nothing about him because her mother never mentions him.
Of course that Lisa didn't remember her mother. She used to sit on her father's piano and look at her picture but one day her father caught her and the next day the picture was gone.
The girls realized there were too many coincidences in their lives including the fact that both of them were born on October 14th on the same year, in the same place and they looked like twins. They concluded that they must be twins.
Lottie finds her mother's picture and shows her to Lisa. Lisa, exhausted from happiness just nodded her head and whispered: “My mommy!”. Lottie hugged her and said that it's their mommy. The two girls held tight. The secret that they just reveled opened a door to a new world with many more secrets to come. Lottie gave Lisa her mother's picture.
In the meantime one of the guardians and Miss MAthesius realized they were twins but Miss Mathesisu forbid anyone from saying or doing anything. The guardian wanted to know whether the girls sent their pictures home and they said they did but they lied. They actually ripped the pictures and threw the pieces into the lake. They wanted to keep their secret safe.
Lisa's friends were angry at her and jealous at Lottie for taking Lisa away from them. Lisa wanted to know everything about her mother and Lottie about her father so they became inseparable. Except for describing their parents to one another they were also curious about something else – why don't their parents live together?
The parents got married and got two twin girls. The mother's name was Lisalotte, so they both got their name by their mom. They must have loved each other but then they got into a fight and decided that they both would raise one daughter separately. The two of them thought that they deserved to be asked if they wanted to be split apart but they were babies back then and didn't know how to talk.
Lisa asked for her father's picture in a letter so she could show it to Lottie. He looked serious in the picture but he was actually a cheerful and happy man.
One of their friends started crying in silence when she got her letter because it said their parents were getting a divorce. She suspected that her father loved another woman. The twins were shaken up by what they've heard. Both of them defended their parent by saying they have nobody but they still couldn't figure out why they split without ever telling them the truth. It was a mystery that needed to be solved.
Vacation was coming to an end. They were sitting in the garden almost every day and wrote down little important facts about their parents for each other because they wanted to switch roles. Lisa won't be going home to her dad and Lottie is not going to her mom. That way both of them had a chance to meet their long lost parent and they just hoped no one will notice their skim. Lottie didn't like stuffed pancakes and they were Lisa's favorite dish so she was kind of miserable about having to eat them.
The twins still had no intention on telling their parents they know the truth. They didn't want to force them to make difficult decisions but they also weren't ready to just live the way they used to. They swamped their clothes, luggage and their ways of life. They were thoroughly prepared for the upcoming adventure. They had notes about the parent they were about to meet and they decided to mail if something important and unpredictable happens.
Lisa and Lottie assumed their roles on the last dinner in the camp. Nobody noticed they switched places. The next day Lisa went to Munich and Lottie went to Wien.
Lisa had to wait for her mother on the train station because she was kept at work. Her mother finally arrived and ran to hug her. Her mother started crying from happiness and Lisa kissed her mother's face, hair even her hat.
In the same time Lottie ate Lisa's favorite pancakes. Her father's friends gave her a bunch of presents and everyone was surprised that her dog wasn't thrilled about seeing her. He just sniffed her a bit and turned around. He wasn't able to recognize her because she had a different smell from Lisa.
Lottie stayed in her new home while her dad was working. He was a conductor and he wasn't able to do his job at home. In the meantime she got to know her new room according to the notes Lisa left her. When she explored every corner she checked the household accounts that were run by her father's housekeeper. She realized that she made a mistake in almost every account and all to her advantage. The housekeeper was furious about her behavior but Lottie gently warned her that she will be going over the recites more often. Because of Lottie's behavior the housekeeper became better at her job.
The twin's parents split up because they couldn't find a compromise between their work and family. The father Ludwig was a conductor and if he was surrounded by people and suddenly had a brilliant idea about some new work he would leave immediately to write down his thoughts. He did it always and when the twins were born he couldn't find any peace due to their crying so he spent more and more time in his atelier with his piano. He would rarely be with his wife and kids. After some time the mother got tired of his behavior because not only was he never around but he also worked a lot with female singers so she decided to divorce him. He saw that as an opportunity to spend more time alone. After the divorce he got Lisa and a nanny took care of her.
Lisa tried to make a beef soup with noodles because it was her mother's favorite but she wasn't as good of a cook as Lottie was. She was always eating at restaurants so she didn't know her way around the kitchen. After her lunch turned out to be a failure she told her mother that she forgot how to cook in the summer camp. It was the only excuse she could come up with. Her mother tried to be supportive so she said that the soup was actually pretty good.
In the meantime Lottie was sitting in Lisa's prettiest dress in the Viennese opera house and watched her dad with his orchestra. Soon the door of the section she was sitting in opened and an elegant lady walked in. While the audience was clapping Lottie waved to her father but then she realized he wasn't only waving to her but to the lady next to her. That lady, named Irene, offered Lottie a box of chocolates but Lottie refused by waving her hand and she accidentally threw the box. All of the candy started rolling on the floor and people laughed silently. Lottie was embarrassed and she whispered an apology to the lady.
After a few weeks Lisa decided to cook again. She got close to her mother on their field trips that included walks in the nature, flower picking, singing, eating delicious food and sleeping for a bit under an open sky.
Lottie was interested in the piano so her father started giving her piano lessons. Her interest made him happy and encouraged him to write a children's opera. Her piano lessons ended because her father had no time so she decided to drop by his atelier one day to bring him flowers. Irene was there as well. She wanted to marry Lottie's dad but Lottie was in the way. She seduced him and he fell in love with her so hard that he proposed. The next day he told Lottie that he wanted to get married again and Lottie shouted loudly:”No!”
She begged him not to do it because no one could replace her mother and she was unable to tell him she knows and loves her mom.
The girl thought fast – she found Irene's address in the phone book. The housekeeper told her how to get to her house where Lottie briefly forbid Irene from marring her father. Irene pretended to be excited about all the time she will be spending with Lottie and she claimed that they will get along better once they know each other. Lottie's rejection made her angry. She sent Lottie home and concluded that she should rush the weeding and send Lottie to a boarding school.
Lottie was running a fever that day. The housekeeper called her father's opera house and they informed him about his daughter's state. He found out what happened at Irene's house and realized that the girl was overly upset about the weeding.
Lisalotte was at her work with the main editor and they were deciding which picture should go on the front cover of the newspaper. He gave her some photos and one of them was the photo of her twins. She almost fainted. She saw the address from which the photo came and realized what has happened. She was concerned about one thing – was the girl in her home Lisa or Lottie. She talked to Lottie's or better yet Lisa's teacher that warned her about some changes in Lottie's behavior since she came back. They realized that the twins switched.
She came home about the time Lisa was preparing lunch. She just made a remark about how fast she learned to cook. The girl was thrilled about her cooking skills so much that she forgot she is supposed to be Lottie that knows how to cook. She just bit her lower lip and avoided eye contact. Her mother, pale of shock, just said: “Lisa!”
Lisa dropped the plates so they all broke and made a loud noise. They discovered a secret that was tormenting both of them and she just hugged each other on their knees while crying. Lisa said she's sorry about her lies and her mother told her that all is forgotten.
Lisa was worried about Lottie not responding to her letters. Her mother had to call her ex-husband and ask him if Lottie was alright. She explained him everything and they agree that she should bring Lisa to Wien with the first airplane.
In the morning they arrived to Wien. The dog ran happily to Lisa. He recognized her smell. When he saw the two girls together he just stood there confused. The housekeeper just looked at the twins and tried to figure out what was happening.
The parents talked about many things but they also kept some secrets. The father kept his fiancée a secret. She came to his atelier in the evening and he told her what was going on. She got jealous and he got furious. She slammed the door to his face and it was the end of them.
Lisa and Lottie were back to who they are and didn't have to fake anymore. They helped their mother in Wien with shopping, cooking, playing and singing. On October 14th both of them celebrated their birthday. They turned ten. Their dad was playing the birthday song and the twins forbid their parents to buy them anything because the gift they wanted couldn't have been paid with money. They just wanted their family back together. The parents didn't know what to say. They talked privately in the other room and the girls peeked through the keyhole. They decided it was in the twin's best interest if they stayed together and both had a mother and a father. The girls were thrilled when they saw their parents kissing.
The two of them got married and their daughters were happy because after tears, fear, lies, desperation, disease and other adventures they deserved this ending. They moved in together and their father atelier was in the apartment where they lived.
They had to enroll one of the twins to school and the headmaster was shocked when he saw the twins. The parents just laughed.
Their photography that helped their mother discover the truth was on the front page of the newspaper. The girls knew that without the photographer their mother never would have known the truth so they decided to write him a “thank you” note.
Genre: children's novel
Time: summer vacation and some time after
Place: summer camp, Wien, Munich
Characters: Lisa, Lottie, Lisalotte, Ludwig, Irene…
Lisa Palfy - one of the main characters. She was a nine years old girl from Wien who lived with her father. She had curly hair and she was witty, playful, cheerful…
Lotte Körner - the second main character who lived with her mother. Her hair was curly and always braided. She was serious, decent, polite, practical, calm, hard working, thoughtful, independent…
Lisalotte Körner - photography editor in a publishing firm. She was young, cheerful, overly busy and spent all her free time with her daughter.
Ludwig Palfy - conductor of the Viennese opera and he is about 35 years old. He is fun, elegant, famous and proud artist but lonely, complicated and strange. Often he had no time to spend with his daughter.
About the author: Erich Kästner