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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 23 August 2001
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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on 23 December 2000
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 naïve, way.
I am not, by the way, a Christian: Nor am I a child. But I really enjoyed this book.
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on 28 November 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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on 1 October 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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on 5 December 2007
This book really cannot be recommended highly enough !
I bought it about 5 years ago when my daughter would have been 6 years old and intially, my wife and I would read a chapter each night in the lead up to Christmas. As each chapter represents a day in December and is only half-a-dozen pages long, it's the ideal bedtime story for kids (and adults, I guess!).
Now my daughter is old enough to read it for herself and is, in fact, an avid reader. However, it is such a wonderfully written book and the reading of it has become such a pre-Christmas ritual in our house, that we all still take part (my daughter loves to shout "To Bethlehem!, To Bethlehem"! at the appropriate moment!).
Interestingly, she recently reviewed it as part of a school project and said that she finds it impossible to read two chapters in one sitting. Somehow it just doesn't seem right !
I have no particular interest in religion and would probably count myself as an agnostic but this book somehow conveys the true meaning of Christmas in a way that I have never come across before.
If I could give it 10 stars, I would. Quite simply, if you have young children (or even if you don't), buy it !!
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on 17 December 2013
When I was having a good book turn out in September 2010 I came across this book on a shelf and I have no idea where it came from. I don't remember buying it or receiving it as a gift. As soon as I finished it I passed it on to my daughter who has 3 sons. Every year since then she has read it a chapter at a time leading up to Christmas. They now follow the journey on a globe or a map; they do drawings of Norwegian churches and year by year the book seems to be even more magical. We are not a religious family but we love Christmas and this book has become a part of our family tradition. I would recommend it to people with great imaginations who like to enter into the world of a book with children. My daughter told me today that she is surprised that there seems to be no study work on it. Perhaps it is better that way.
I am now going to buy another copy for my son's children who are now old enough to appreciate it.
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on 24 October 2000
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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on 13 November 2003
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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on 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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on 6 December 2004
I read this book not long after reading Jostein Gaarder's smash hit 'Sophie's World', and whilst I found it enchanting, I cannot honestly say it matches up to his other novels.

It follows the story of a young boy who discovers an advent calendar with a difference while out shopping with his parents. This calendar, mysteriously placed in a book shop by a market florist,has a chapter of one girls extraordinary journey back through time to the birth of Christ in each door. This story immediatly captures the imaginations of both Joachim (the boy) and his parents, as they race each day to discover what the next door's chapter holds.

This plot is certainly original and Gaarder succeeds in telling two stories at once, although it can sometimes seem bare of description and a little repetitive. But, with all that said this book is still worth a read, particularly in the run up to Christmas, if only for the 'cosy Christmas feeling' you are guaranteed to get.
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