Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Christmas Mystery

The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder
Paperback, 247 pages

Published October 7th 1999 by Phoenix Press (first published 1992)

My shelves: books-i-own, childrens, christmas-books, classics, historical, magical-realism, read, read-in-2011, translated, young-adult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Description via Goodreads


The bestselling modern classic. Fifty years ago a girl disappeared from her home in Norway. She ran after a lamb and found herself travelling right across Europe to Palestine, and back through 2000 years to meet the Holy Family in Bethlehem. There she met angels, shepherds, wise men and other biblical characters who joined her on her pilgrimage; and she heard of many of the things that happened in the world in the last 2000 years. In present-day Norway, a boy acquires a strange old Advent calendar. Hidden in each of the windows is a tiny piece of paper. Little by little these pieces unfold the girl's story, and as we learn what happened to her, another story is revealed - that of the strange old man who made the calendar.

My Review



It's really quite a risky thing to try and retell one of (if not the) most well known stories in the world, especially if you're going to put a twist on it. However, I'm pleased that Gaarder did it because he managed to execute it very well. The choice of chick-lit Christmas themed stories is bountiful, and I do enjoy them, but to be able to read a different take on the original Christmas story is a rare treat.
I believe this book was primarily targeted at Children, but this could certainly be classed as a family book. Gaarder shares an important story and he also incorporates some more philosophical questions in this book - infact, because of this, I'd probably recommend it more for older children, perhaps 8yrs +.
The story of the birth of Christ is retold in this book, in the form of following young girl named Elisabet as she travels through different countries and time, retracing the steps of several biblical characters (sheep included), as they make their way to Bethlehem.
This story as staged as a story inside another story. The protagonist, Joachim, stumbles across a magical Advent calendar in an old bookshop, and each day he opens a new window, another part of the story is revealed. Reading this book during Advent was fantastic and like Joachim and his parents, I was eager and excited for another window to be opened to see what happened next during Elisabet's journey.
The Advent format of this book was really exciting and it wouldn't be a bad idea to use this book as a type of calendar itself (if you could resist reading on!). I'd urge people to pick this up for a slightly different, easy to read but interesting Christmas read.

13 comments:

  1. This looks like a great book to read as part of a holiday tradition. We have several and enjoy pulling them out.

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  2. I love Christmas books. Thanks for the review. I'll have to add this to my holiday wish list books.

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  3. This sounds really good. I will have to check into it. Great review!

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  4. Sounds like a good book! I'm not big into Christmas book for some reason (not sure why cause I LOVE Christmas!) but sometimes it's nice to throw one in the mix.

    Thanks for stopping by and following! I'm following you back :)

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  5. I loved Sophie's World but Maya was a bit flat. I'll be sure to check this out.

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  6. I've never heard of this book until now. I'm not really into children's book so I think I'll pass up on this. I'm glad you liked it though.:)

    Thanks for the follow! I'm following you back. :)

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  7. Great review! I don't actually read Christmassy books to be honest but it definitely seems like a good book for the holiday season.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog by the way. :)

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  8. It does sound like a risky proposition but one that worked over all!

    Lovely review!

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  9. Oh this does sound interesting and creative ... and like it would fit very well with the format of an Advent calendar. It might be a great way to tell a child the story of Jesus's birth for the first time. Thanks for letting us know about this book.

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  10. I had not heard of this book before your review. thanks for the introduction :)

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  11. Wow, this sounds like an unusual book but one I would like to read! Thanks for turning me onto it!

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  12. Oh wow, I've never heard of this one. I read another book by this author and was really impressed. I'm definitely going to have to look for this. Thanks!

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