Paul Maar

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Paul Maar at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2018

Paul Maar (born December 13, 1937 in Schweinfurt ) is a German children's author , illustrator , translator , screenwriter and playwright who lives in Bamberg . Paul Maar wrote children's books because he felt that there weren't enough good children's books. After he published his first work in 1968 and was asked for more, he initially worked as a freelance writer and illustrator. He is particularly known for his series Das Sams .


Paul Maar at a reading (2007)

Childhood and youth

After the early death of his mother, Paul Maar was looked after by housemaids until his father remarried.

During his father's long-term captivity in the US, UK and France, Maar and his stepmother moved to live with their step-grandfather in rural Theres in Lower Franconia. This grandfather owned an inn, where he often told the guests stories that he expanded over the weeks. This gave Paul Maar a feeling for how to turn a process into a narrative. The grandfather also encouraged him to write down the stories he had invented in a notebook.

When Maar's father returned from captivity, the family moved back to their old place of residence. Now he lived in an environment that was hostile to reading and was prevented from reading rather than encouraged by his father. In addition, there were only a few children's books - shortly after the Second World War. The only children's books in the house were a copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales , Robinson Crusoe , The Indian Stories of Drabben and The Story of the Wooden Boy (Pinocchio) . In the absence of a public library and because the private lending libraries demanded high fees, Paul Maar borrowed adult books free of charge from the library of the Amerika-Haus in Schweinfurt, even if he did not always understand them. Because he was not allowed to read at home, he deposited the books with a friend whom he visited on the pretext of doing homework there . He then read in his room while the friend played soccer with his brother outside.

His father, the master craftsman, was frustrated with both the “failed son” and the lost years of captivity. Maar later said he did not want to read books about children in a similar family situation during this time. As a child, Paul Maar was often bullied by stronger boys. This experience recurs frequently in his books. Martin Taschenbier is teased by classmates, his book character Lippel is no different.

In an interview with Hamburger Abendblatt , Paul Maar argued that children's book authors had an extreme childhood:

“Either they were as well protected as Astrid Lindgren , who lived off this sunny childhood. Or else they had a hard time and later invent the childhood that they had not had. I count myself among the second. "

Maar attended the Alexander-von-Humboldt-Gymnasium Schweinfurt and made a name for himself there with his artistic talent and as an author for the school newspaper. In the Abitur class he met his future wife Nele Ballhaus , who came from a girls' school and wanted to take her Abitur at a state school.

Study and job

Paul Maar studied after graduating from the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart . During the semester break he worked as a set designer and theater photographer at the Franconian Theater Schloss Maßbach . After completing his studies, he was a trainee lawyer in Stuttgart-Feuerbach . For six years he worked as an art teacher at the Albert-Schweitzer-Gymnasium in Crailsheim and at the Eduard-Spranger-Gymnasium (Filderstadt) .


Maar came to write because the theater manager complained that there were no new plays for children and that he had to play Sleeping Beauty or The Seven Little Goats again and again . The result was Maar's first play The King in a Box . In the process, he also learned to put what he had developed at his desk into practice on stage. As a result, he wrote his next piece, Kikerikiste, shortly afterwards . The piece was a great success and was even played abroad. For him, however, this success was an obstacle, because he believed that a new piece would not necessarily achieve the same quality and therefore put off working on new theater pieces. Instead, he preferred to write new children's books.

Maar only wrote children's books when he had children of his own. Disappointed about the poor quality of the children's books of the time, he wrote the stories about a tattooed dog in 1967 . In an interview he said:

“None of the books I took from the city library to my children when I was a student and read them to me. They were dusty and conventional and in part still breathed the spirit of the Third Reich. "

He showed the finished manuscript to a bookseller at the Wendelin Niedlich bookstore in Stuttgart. Shortly afterwards this was passed on to a publisher who presented her with the new publications of the year. A little later Maar received an invitation from the Hamburg publishing group Friedrich Oetinger . The publisher Friedrich Oetinger made it clear to him that he liked the manuscript, but if he was thinking of writing a children's book in order to then turn to “serious” literature, then he could pack his manuscript right away. He had no desire to build a young author who was a shame to write for children. Friedrich Oetinger made him promise to continue devoting himself to children's literature, and so Maar stuck to children's literature, although he intended to write mainly for adults.

As an art teacher, Paul Maar wanted to illustrate the book himself, but the publisher did not agree. He only got into illustrating after the book turned out to be a success. After his first successes as a writer, Maar gave up the profession of art teacher and has been working as a freelance author and illustrator since 1976. He has been a member of the PEN Center Germany since 1997 .

In 1998 Paul Maar donated the Paul Maar scholarship to support young writers in children's and youth theater . The scholarship program was limited to ten years and was discontinued in December 2008.


He has three grown children and lives in Bamberg. Together with his wife Nele Maar , he translates children's books from English. His daughter Anne Maar and his son Michael Maar are also writers.

Literary meaning

Paul Maar at the Leipzig Book Fair on March 19, 2011

Maar's best-known works are the stories that deal with Sams , an enigmatic and cheeky mythical creature, and were filmed in Bamberg under the title Das Sams , Sams in danger and Sams im Glück . The stories about Sams have autobiographical elements, as Mr. Taschenbier, the “adopted” father of Sams, is just as shy as the young Paul Maar was. The Sams is the exact opposite of that: cheeky and cheeky. The appearance of the Sam was determined by Maar's children who only agreed to its appearance after more than twenty drafts. The wish points should actually be freckles. But since Paul Maar, distracted by a phone call, forgot to wash out the brush with which he had previously painted Sam's blue suit, the brown color for the freckles mixed with the blue, turning them into blue and later into so-called wish points have been reinterpreted.

There was also a role model for the strict Frau Rotkohl, albeit under a different name: She was the caretaker who denigrated the children of the Maar family playing in and around the apartment building. His children were especially amused when they heard stories in which this woman had to say the opposite of what she was trying to say.

Maar's books, however, also contain many literary allusions, for example to ETA Hoffmann's works and his stay in Bamberg, which, however, are not understandable for children, but were built in for their own enjoyment: The double motif at ETA Hoffmann is repeated with Martin Taschenbier, who also has a doppelganger. Hoffmann's talking dog Berganza also appears in Ein Sams for Martin Taschenbier . In a key story by ETA Hoffmann there is the strange child , and when it first appears, Sams is called the strange child . In ETA Hoffmann's story The Stranger Child there are two children named Felix and Christlieb. The two attendants in the school camp are then called Mrs. Felix and Mrs. Christlieb. The Taschenbier family lives on ETA-Hoffmann-Straße, and Martin's bus leaves at Schillerplatz, because the ETA-Hoffmann-Haus, Hoffmann's former apartment, is on Bamberg's Schillerplatz. There are also allusions to poetry, especially Dadaist and nonsense poetry, as befits Sams, some to Morgenstern's gallows songs and some to Ernst Jandl. That's why the Sams books are also enjoyable to read for adults.

Maar is also responsible for many classics from the Augsburger Puppenkiste and has also written other children's books. He also designs picture stories for magazines. Of his own works, among other things, he is most satisfied with Lippel's dream and Anne wants to become a twin .

Some of his children's theater pieces are consistently successful, especially his classic Kikerikiste (1972), for example, is staged around the world from Russia, Europe to the USA ( Noodle Doodle Box ).


Books and plays
year title
1968 The tattooed dog (A tattooed dog tells stories to a lion about the pictures on its fur.)
1970 The bewitched dumpling pot (The two "Dickpeters" get a wish from a witch who accidentally saved them from drowning: a dumpling pot that is never empty and that they now have to protect from thieves.)
1971 The King in the Box (play about a king who wants to free his country, his castle and his brother from an evil witch by being smuggled into his castle in a large magic box) First performance: November 24, 1970 in the Theater für Kinder , Hamburg. Director: Eberhard Möbius ; Stage design and costumes: Kathrin Kegler ; Music: Günther Jaacks .
1972 Kikerikiste (play about the friends Bartholomäus and Kümmel, who argue about who has the most beautiful box.) First performance: February 7, 1973, Theater für Kinder, Hamburg. Director: Eberhard Möbius; Stage design and costumes: Kathrin Kegler .
1973 Summelsarium or thirteen (13) true stories of lies (Summelsarium is a word with two typographical errors)
A week full of Saturdays ( Sams is a disrespectful being that shy Mr. Taschenbier is so embarrassed at first that he tries to get rid of it.)
Kikerikiste (play )
Mützenwexel (play)
1973 Friend inventor (play)
1976 Other children also live with their parents (Kilian grew up with his grandparents in the village and is now suddenly supposed to move to his parents in the city.)
1977 Uncle Florian's flying flea market (picture stories, search pictures and head-standing pictures, snug pictures, letter pictures and squiggles, typewriter pictures and ameurasily pictures)
1980 The Sams came back on Saturday (Mr. Taschenbier longs for the Sams back, which actually comes back and gets him a working dream machine.)
1981 The railroad grandma (An old woman and a boy tell each other stories during a train ride.)
1982 The forgotten door (A magical world is hidden behind a door in the attic.)
Anne wants to become a twin (Anne's big brother doesn't want to wait for his five-and-a-half-year-old sister to get older.)
1983 Animal ABC (learning the letters from A to Z with animals and rhymes for each letter of the alphabet)
The journey through silence (play)
Home Sweet Home: American Domestic Vernacular Architecture (architecture book, together with Kathrine Smith)
1984 Lippel's dream (Frau Jakob is supposed to look after the boy Lippel for a week, but makes his life difficult and takes his book away from him. So Lippel dreams the story he had just started reading to an end. With his friends Arslan and Hamide he tries to get rid of Frau Jakob; novel for children, made into a film in 1992 and 2009)
1985 The Opodeldoks (idea and illustrations by Paul Maar, text by Sepp Strubel ) (Little Deldok flies over the mountains with his self-made catapult kite flying machine, and that's how the Opodeldoks from the grasslands and the forest people from the woodlands get to know each other.)
Robert and Trebor (Robert has moved and makes a new friend, Trebor, whom no one can see but him.)
1986 The day aunt Marga disappeared and other stories (eleven different stories)

A week full of Saturdays (play)

1987 Towers (non-fiction book about tower-like buildings from all epochs of human history)
Konrad Knifflich's puzzle case (picture puzzles, riddle poems, brain teasers )
1988 Then it will probably be the rhinoceros (ABC game for children of reading age. Plucking noses, puzzles, comics, letter stories and rhyme stories)
1989 The little kangaroo on an adventure (The kangaroo child goes on an adventure trip with his friend, the jumping mouse, until lunch)
1990 Colorado beetle times (stories about twelve-year-old Johanna in a village in post-war Germany, who witnessed the grannies' guerrilla warfare for power in the house.)
The little kangaroo learns to fly (More stories about the little kangaroo)
A week full of Saturdays (musical)
1991 The little kangaroo and his friends (twelve self-contained stories about the little kangaroo and his friends)
The little kangaroo and the fearful rabbit (more stories about the little kangaroo)
The forgotten door (opera for children, music by Matthias Thurow )
1992 New points for Sams (Mr. Taschenbier doubts whether it was the right thing to wish for the chaotic Sams. Furthermore, Mr. Taschenbier falls in love with a colleague at work.)
Anne does everything (Anne does everything to her older sister Christine, who is also to blame.) for it if something goes wrong.)
On Saturday the Sams came back (play)
Papa now lives in Heinrichstrasse (play)
1993 There is still room next to me (Steffi's friend Aischa from Lebanon is returning home because her dormitory is being attacked.)
New children's plays

Jakob and the big boy (A big boy regularly ambushes Jakob at lunchtime, but a girl comes to his aid.)
New points for the Sams (play)

1995 Tina and Timmi don't know each other (Tina and Timmi live on Ottostraße, but they don't know each other.)
Lippel's dream (play)
1996 A Sams for Martin Taschenbier (ten-year-old Martin Taschenbier is just as shy as his father was, but gains self-confidence through the Sams.)
The yellow sweater (red is Ulla's favorite color, she can't stand yellow, and yet she gets it from Aunt Nelli A yellow sweater was given for her birthday.)
The letter eater(Illustrations: Manfred Bofinger ) (Claudia finds an egg the size of a car tire in the garden from which a letter eater hatches.)
On Saturday the Sams came back (musical)
1997 It's the mouse's birthday today (Six guests brought presents for the mouse to her birthday party? A picture book to search for and guess at.)
Back and forth, cabbage and cross (stories, extracts from novels, picture puzzles and children's poetry. Cross-section through Paul Maar's oeuvre)
Tina and Timmi go on a trip (Tina and Timmi go on a trip with their class. When they return they don't notice that Tina is missing.)
Matti, Momme and the magic beans (Matti and Momme live on an island, one of them fearless and full of wanderlust, the other fearful and preferably at home.)
1998 The little kangaroo in danger (Report on an adventurous excursion that the little kangaroo takes with his girlfriend the jerboa.)
The elevator (play)
FAUST (play about the story of the beggar boy Faust becoming a traveling doctor and scholar. But FAUST is also the abbreviation for F uriose A benteuer u nd s onderbare T space.)
1999 In a deep, dark forest ... (Stories about the spoiled Princess Henriette-Rosalinde-Audora, who lets herself be kidnapped by a monster in order to marry her savior.)
The white wolf (chamber opera, music by Matthias Thurow )
In a deep , dark forest (play about Princess Henriette-Rosalinde-Audora and Princess Simplinella)
2001 Sams becomes a film star (pictures, stories and explanations on the making of the Sams film and the locations in Bamberg)
Animal friendships (picture book about love relationships between animals)
2002 Sams in danger (The Sams falls into the hands of Martin Taschenbier's sadistic sports teacher, Mr. Daume.)
Gloria the cow ( Gloria the hippy cow wants to become a singer or dancer and fails miserably at first until she makes a big hit with the hippos.)
2003 Rabbit and Bear (book with fold-out pages and peepholes, behind which funny details are hidden.)
Little dragons sleep peacefully (On each page are shown sleeping animals and a little girl. Each with a small verse about the sleeping animals.)
2004 Big Sister, Stranger Brother (Stories of children who all go to the same school, but each have their own story.)
Who is the greatest? (The story of two Inuit boys, Jonah and Enuki, fighting over who is tallest.)
Sams in Danger (play)
2005 Mr Bello and the blue miracle (The dog Bello turns into a human through a blue sap, but retains its behavior as a dog.)
The hidden treasure (Muhar the little one goes to another city because a dream prophesied to him that he will find a treasure there.)
Klaras Engel (play)
The forgotten door (musical. Music by Matthias Thurow)
Of mouse and moon or who is the greatest? (Play about the fight between Inuit boys Jonah and Enuki over who is the tallest.)
El Viaje de Lisa (illustrated by Kestutis Kasparavicius)
2006 News from Mr Bello (Mr Bello also transforms his Collie friend Adrienne into a human being, but she wants to become a bitch again, while Mr Bellowants to remaina “ monk ”under all circumstances.)
East of the sun, west of the moon. The most beautiful children's stories (editor of over 100 stories by the authors Aesop , Astrid Lindgren , Erich Kästner , Rudyard Kipling , Peter Härtling , Max Kruse etc.)
Mr. Bello (film script together with Ulrich Limmer)
2008 See you with Mr. Bello
2009 Uncle Alwin and Sams
Jaguar and Neinguar , poems for children
Lippel's dream (film script together with Ulrich Limmer)
2010 The flying camel
2011 Sams im Glück (book)
The best cook in the world (play)
2012 Sams im Glück (movie)
Lippel, are you dreaming again! (Book)
2015 The Galimat and I (book)
One sams too many (book)
A wetsuit for the Sams (book)
2017 Sams celebrates Christmas (book) - With illustrations by the illustrator Nina Dulleck
2020 The Sams and the Blue Dragon (book) - With illustrations by the illustrator Nina Dulleck



Numerous schools were named after Paul Maar during his lifetime:

  • 1991: Renaming of the Schubertstrasse kindergarten in Leinfelden-Echterdingen to the Paul Maar Kindergarten, now the Paul Maar Kinderhaus
  • 1997: Paul Maar School in Bad Homburg vor der Höhe
  • 2002: Paul Maar School in Flörsheim am Main
  • 2004: Renaming of the Großziethen primary school to the Paul Maar primary school ( Großziethen , Brandenburg)
  • 2005: Renaming of the Hilden special school with the special focus on emotional and social development to Paul Maar School Hilden
  • 2005: Renaming of the Oldenburg elementary school on Bremer Heerstraße to Paul Maar School
  • 2005: Renaming of the primary school in Nidderau Eichen to Paul Maar School
  • 2006: Paul Maar School in Hilden
  • 2006: Paul Maar School in Rietberg
  • 2008: Renaming of the Hilkerode elementary school to Paul Maar elementary school
  • 2008: Renaming of the Mandelsloh elementary school to Paul Maar School Mandelsloh
  • 2008: Renaming of the school association in Ratingen from Martinschule and Gerhard Tersteegen School to Paul Maar School Ratingen
  • 2008: Paul Maar School in Hilden
  • 2008: Paul Maar School in Weyhe
  • 2010: Renaming of the Raßnitz primary school to the Paul Maar primary school and the Raßnitz crèche to the Sams crèche
  • 2010: Paul Maar School in Cologne
  • 2011: Paul Maar Primary School, network of three primary schools in Hiddenhausen


  • Andreas Wicke, Nikola Roßbach (ed.): Paul Maar: Studies on Children's and Young People's Literary Works , Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2017, ISBN 978-3-8260-5971-1

Web links

Commons : Paul Maar  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Konrad Heidkamp: Mönsch Maar! The highly praised Paul Maar has again written a very enjoyable children's book. Time online May 11, 2005, archived from the original on July 26, 2011 ; Retrieved August 20, 2012 .
  2. Petra Schraml: 'I don't think that fewer children read today.' Children's author Paul Maar about reading children and interesting books., May 18, 2005, accessed on August 20, 2012 .
  3. Henning Fangauf : Paul Maar provides information. In: Theater of Time. 12th edition, Henschel Theaterverlag, Berlin 2007, p. 30.
  4. Kürschner's German Literature Calendar (2008/2009) , 66th volume, De Gruyter, Berlin 2008, p. 1817, ISBN 978-3-11-097128-6 .
  5. Philip Cassier, Britta Stuff: Paul Maar: So the Sams came to its points. In: . May 11, 2007, accessed October 7, 2018 .
  6. School anniversary and naming ( memento from February 11, 2013 in the web archive ), accessed on September 11, 2012