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The Christmas Mystery [Hardcover]

Jostein Gaarder , Elizabeth Rokkan , Rosemary Wells
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

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Kindle Edition 3.99  
Hardcover 15.42  
Hardcover, Nov 1996 --  
Paperback 5.59  
Audio, Cassette, Audiobook, Unabridged 9.99  

Book Description

Nov 1996

A boy called Joachim acquires a strange old Advent calender ¿ and uncovers from it the story of a girl called Elisabet, who disappeared from her home fifty years earlier. Elisabet has been taken back through time and right across Europe to Palestine, to see the Holy Family in Bethlehem. Two thousand years of history flash by, and angels, shepherds and wise men join her on her joyful pilgrimage. It is Joachim who, through the Advent calendar, makes it possible for her to come home.

THE CHRISTMAS MYSTERY transcends all barriers. It has already proved a great success with colour decorations for children, and as a paperback for adults. It has now been abridged for younger readers and freshly illustrated by a talented new young artist. The qualities of wonder and enquiry that readers loved in SOPHIE¿S WORLD are as strong as ever in this beautiful and mysterious story which appeals to believers and non-believers alike.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 221 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (T) (Nov 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374123292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374123291
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 19.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,967,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jostein Gaarder was born in Oslo in 1952. A former Professor of Philosophy, he now writes full time.

Following the phenomenal success of Sophie's World - which has been translated into 55 languages and sold over 30 million copies worldwide - ten of his novels have been translated into English, including The Solitaire Mystery, Vita Brevis and The Orange Girl.

He lives in Oslo with his wife, and has two grown-up sons.

Product Description

Amazon Review

When Joachim opens the first window on his advent calendar, his excitement mounts as the countdown to Christmas Day begins. But soon he notices that strange things are happening behind the little windows, and everyday something mysterious and new appears. Meanwhile Elisabeth and the angel Ephiriel are on their own very special journey, and it is only when the last window on Joachim's calendar is opened that the true magic and wonder of Christmas is revealed.

Josten Gaarder, author of the international bestseller Sophie's World, has taken the story of Christmas and given it an alluring, mystical, modern twist that transports readers back to the Bethlehem of baby Jesus without ever losing sight of the wonder of it all. With illustrations by Rosemary Wells, The Christmas Mystery is lifted into the realms of the classics by the richness and poetry of Gaarder's language, making it so much more than just another book for Christmas. --Susan Harrison --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


"...a book to treasure"
-- The Herald, 30 November 2002

"...a fairytale enchantment shining in a modern world. Wistfully captivating"
-- Books for Keeps

"...the gentle, whispered illustrations by Sarah Gibb add to the sense of wonder already created..."
-- Church of England Newspaper, 5 December 2002

"A great Christmas story with a sense of wonder."
-- Eastern Daily Press, 8 November 2003

"Entertaining, informative and magical."
-- Bournemouth Daily Echo, 15 November 2003

"This novel communicates better than any modern narrative I have read a sense of the religious excitement of Christmas."
-- The Tablet, 7 December 2002 atmospheric Christmas tale for the whole family. -- Yoga & Health, December 1, 2003 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the child in everyone. 23 Aug 2001
By A Customer
Read this book in December, when you're fed up with the commercialism of it all and re-capture the magic you felt as a child. It's magical, enchanting and it certainly appealed to the child in me. The clever layering of stories - Joachim in the present and Elisabeth as she makes her journey through time - keeps the brain engaged. But this book is about more than that - despite being built around the Christian Christmas story, it's really about light, hope and joy and a reminder that not everything is about jingling cash tills. A book to treasure.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful pre-Christmas read! 28 Nov 2003
A friend lent me this book a year ago. It captures the meaning, feel and child-centred innocence of Christmas like nothing else I have read. This year I have my own copy, and have ordered a second copy to read to the Year 5 class that I teach. The chapters are titled as days in December, so it makes a perfect advent read. My wife and I also intend to read it to our children as a preparation for Christmas. The only 'problem' with the book is that it's so tempting to read more than one day's worth at a time. A wonderful, magical book which actually gives you that Christmassy feel that so many of us lose when we get older!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JOYFILLED 1 Oct 2003
Gaarder as always takes the reader on a wonderful joyfilled journey of enlightenment, it really brings home the Christian message of Christ being present to His people in human flesh and all people can turn to Him and see him alive in all ages and times. Advent is a time of preperation for the coming of Christ, this book grabs the reader and holds the interest so much that you want to read the next day, just like a child wants to open the next chocolate of the advent calander. The preperation that Gaarder provides is a caring one and patient one. Its a true "Must Read", especially in preperation for CHRISTMAS...
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Advent story since Dickens 23 Dec 2000
By A Customer
If you want to put some Magic into a child's Christmas, get this book and read it, one day at a time: It is the best Advent story since Dickens.
This year I did just that - for myself, and the feelings, of warmth and excitement generated made the darker days of winter a little lighter. Like the little boy in the story, I wanted to know the ending, and like the boy, I didn't want it to end.
Each 'chapter' is given a date, starting on the first day of December. There are 24 chapters, and, as it opens - like a flower, or like detective story - new ideas, new questions and new meanings are given to what has almost become a cliché, the Christmas Story and the power generated by it.
You cross Europe, you cross history. You are involved in serious questions - that of refugees, and of lost children, and of power - issues presented in a way a child can start to make sense of if presented in this simple, but not nave, way.
I am not, by the way, a Christian: Nor am I a child. But I really enjoyed this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Christmas Mystery 20 July 2003
After reading this book I wished my children were still young enough to want me to read them stories. It is a novel advent calendar that would be lovely to read a chapter a day to experience this charming rendition of the Christmas story together.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas magic 1 Jan 2009
I have read this book EVERY Christmas since I first bought it - and that must make 5 or 6 readings at this stage. I never tire of the simple, yet magical story. I am well past childhood but it is a book which appeals to child and adult alike. It is a book for anyone to whom Christmas means more than just an exchange of gifts, and too much food. I have always loved Advent Calendars, but sadly none of those I have ever had have been as special as the one in this book - but I keep hoping!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A truly wonderful preparation for Christmas. I read it every December to my children (aged 5&7) and can see myself doing so for another ten years! The mystery unfolds each day as a slip of paper falls out of a boy's advent calender. It tells the tale of a girl who follows a toy lamb, that suddenly comes to life, out of a toy shop. As she follows the lamb she encounters an angel...Each day (chapter) she encounters another character and travels further towards Bethlehem. However, she is not just travelling across land!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Stunning Simplification by Gaarder 24 Oct 2000
By A Customer
Having avidly read "Sophie's World" and felt a touch disappointed by "Through a Glass Darkly", I thought it was time to give Gaarder another chance. I'm so happy to have now made this decision. Gaarder masterfully simplifies a potentially complex story as majestically as he does in "Sophie's World". The author has the ability to transform the page you read and the thoughts in your mind, and to think that this has been translated from one language into 42 others, and I can't believe has lost anything in transit! Segregated into the days of Advent makes it easy to read. What a perfect Christmas Present. If you liked "Sophie's World" this one's for you. Enjoy!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Christmas Mystery
Lovely book and good service. I was pleased to be able to get an out of season book since it was unavailable pre Christmas last year.
Published 1 month ago by Mrs C M Wise
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring
My book group usually reads a child's Christmas themed book in December. Some of the group loved it but I found it repetitive and uninteresting. Read more
Published 1 month ago by chrispy
5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas time
Wonderful take on the original Christmas story. Could use it for advent reading: one chapter a night until Christmas Day.
Published 4 months ago by HeyJude
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful
Have read it before but lost my other copy, really enjoyed it again, good for all ages - again a very unusual book
Published 5 months ago by Barbara C. Powell
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed reviews from our book club!
We chose this at our Book Club to read for our December meeting. I quite liked it. It's a children's story (I'd say for age 10+) that follows a child on her magical journey back... Read more
Published 6 months ago by R L. Ross
5.0 out of 5 stars the best advent calendar you'll have
Well written, mysterious, charming and a chapter for every day from 1st December to Christmas Eve. I've read this more times than I remember and cannot recommend it enough.
Published 6 months ago by S. Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting.
I couldn't put this book down. The author takes you on a journey through place and time. You could read it at any time of the year but at christmas time the story is magical.
Published 6 months ago by Tracey Harrison
4.0 out of 5 stars December reading
I read this book with eagerness after discovering the author through his book Sophie's world. This book a Christmas Mystery should be read during advent, one chapter at a time, to... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Zenith
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful Christmas read.
I've read this book since I was a child and highly recommend it to everyone. Jostein Gaarder is a beautiful writer who's who's leap of the page and into your imagination.
Published 6 months ago by Georgia Stedman
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising
What a lovely count down to Christmas! I could not wait to read the next chapter, just like the characters. I would recommend this book to anyone who has children.
Published 6 months ago by Jonah
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