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The Christmas Mystery

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One day Elisabet, while Christmas shopping with her mother, vanishes into thin air. Accompanied by angels, shepherds, kings and even a Roman governor, she is rushing back through time and space to Bethlehem, to be present at the birth of Christ. Fifty years later a boy called Joachim pieces together her story from a magic advent calendar and brings it to a conclusion.


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One day Elisabet, while Christmas shopping with her mother, vanishes into thin air. Accompanied by angels, shepherds, kings and even a Roman governor, she is rushing back through time and space to Bethlehem, to be present at the birth of Christ. Fifty years later a boy called Joachim pieces together her story from a magic advent calendar and brings it to a conclusion.

30 review for The Christmas Mystery

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Julemysteriet = The Christmas Mystery, Jostein Gaarder The Christmas Mystery is a 1992 Norwegian novel for children by Jostein Gaarder. The story has one chapter for each day of Advent. Using the device of a "Story within a story", a young boy, Joachim, reads a story hidden behind each window in an advent calendar that he bought on November 30; every day, he finds small piece of paper from the doors of the calendar that tells the story of Elisabet Hansen, who chases a toy lamb that has come Julemysteriet = The Christmas Mystery, Jostein Gaarder The Christmas Mystery is a 1992 Norwegian novel for children by Jostein Gaarder. The story has one chapter for each day of Advent. Using the device of a "Story within a story", a young boy, Joachim, reads a story hidden behind each window in an advent calendar that he bought on November 30; every day, he finds small piece of paper from the doors of the calendar that tells the story of Elisabet Hansen, who chases a toy lamb that has come to life from an Oslo department store. ... تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دوم ماه می سال 2002 میلادی عنوان: راز تولد؛ نویسنده: یوستین(یاستین) گوردر؛ مترجم: مهرداد بازیاری؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، نشر کتاب، هرمس، 1378، در هشت و 200 ص، شابک: 9646641172؛ چاپ دوم 1378؛ چاپ چهارم 1383؛ چاپ پنجم 1385؛ چاپ ششم 1393؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان نروژی سده 20 م پسر خردسالی به نام :«یوکیم»، سی روز پیش از آغاز «کریسمس»، یک تقویم کریسمس می‌خرد، که هر روز باید یک فصل از نوشته‌ های آنرا بخواند، و نماد آن بخش را، به تقویم دیواری‌ خویش بچسباند. «یوکیم» داستان «الیزابت هانسن» را می‌خواند، که با دیدن یک گوسفند اسباب‌ بازی که جان گرفته، او را از «اسلو» تا «بیت‌ لحم» دنبال می‌کند، و در طی سی روز آینده، رخدادهایی گوناگون روی می‌دهد، و با شخصیت‌های تاریخی و دینی بسیاری همراه می‌شود، و در روز کریسمس به «بیت‌ لحم» می‌رسد. «یوکیم» خود نیز رخدادهای جالبی را تجربه می‌کند. ا. شربیانی

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    So, this is for my children, and for Jean-Paul, who gently guides me through the maze to almost-forgotten-yet-unforgettable reading experiences! Many years ago, my children and I started reading this book as a calendar on 1st December, and read one chapter each night until Christmas. It became a ritual, and we had to rearrange our reading time quite a lot to fit in the lengthy chapters in spite of the usual end-of-term activities and pre-Christmas craziness in a busy family of five.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    The basic idea of this book is a great idea and the 24 chapter, advent calendar style is great. However far too many unanswered question for me that would confuse and concern a child. Why would an angel abandon a 20th century girl in the year 0 in a different continent? Why does a children's book include modern day references to child abduction and the poor mother who spend 50 years wondering what became of her daughter? What exactly was Elisabet's role in the birth of Jesus? Why was Elisabet's The basic idea of this book is a great idea and the 24 chapter, advent calendar style is great. However far too many unanswered question for me that would confuse and concern a child. Why would an angel abandon a 20th century girl in the year 0 in a different continent? Why does a children's book include modern day references to child abduction and the poor mother who spend 50 years wondering what became of her daughter? What exactly was Elisabet's role in the birth of Jesus? Why was Elisabet's disappeared linked to political motives which are frankly unbelievable to an adult and would be incomprehensible to a child? I was desperately hoping that it would all be explained at the end but is simply wasn't. Very strange book. Not sure who it was aimed at and who would enjoy it to be honest.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This book was published not too long after the Norwegian author's better known novel, Sophie's World, made a big international splash. Probably way too many copies of The Christmas Mystery were printed, and I seem to remember it being remaindered almost right away. Certainly, I bought it as a remainder, and it sat unread on my shelves for about 15 years. Early this past December, I pulled it out thinking of creating some badly needed shelf space. I read the first chapter (finally) and was hooked by th This book was published not too long after the Norwegian author's better known novel, Sophie's World, made a big international splash. Probably way too many copies of The Christmas Mystery were printed, and I seem to remember it being remaindered almost right away. Certainly, I bought it as a remainder, and it sat unread on my shelves for about 15 years. Early this past December, I pulled it out thinking of creating some badly needed shelf space. I read the first chapter (finally) and was hooked by the premise: Joachim, a boy in a small town in Norway finds a mysterious hand-made Advent calendar in a used bookshop; each day when he opens a door a folded slip of paper with writing falls out, each day's installment telling the story of a girl named Elisabet who makes a strange, mystical journey to Bethlehem, running from the town in Norway across Europe and back in time, in a growing company of sheep, angels, shepherds, wise men (and others who play bit parts in the nativity story). There's a chapter for each door that Joachim opens, making the book itself something of an Advent calendar. I immediately thought to spend December reading it aloud to my eight-year-old boy at bedtime. Now that we're finished, I don't regret it, but there were times during the reading when I wasn't sure if we were going to have the stamina to stick with it. After a very strong opening (my son, too, was immediately hooked by the premise, and taken with the idea of reading each chapter on its corresponding date) the story became a little sluggish and repetitive. The first two angels who join Elisabet on her journey have strong personalities, but the ones that follow (each day another character joins the holy procession) are just names, which is also the case with the shepherds. The wise men make long tedious philosophical speeches which six-year-old Elisabet is always "hiding in her heart." As they travel across Europe and back in time, they are constantly entering towns, with an angel telling Elisabet the name of the town, the current year they are in, and the year the town's principal cathedral was built -- not really engrossing. A shepherd often interrupts whatever informational or philosophical conversation is taking place by banging his crook and shouting "To Bethlehem, to Bethlehem!" This happened so frequently, that I started making a joke of it by reading "...he banged his crook and said..." then pausing to allow my son to yell "To Bethlehem!" himself. The framing story of Joachim and his attempt to learn about the maker of the Advent calendar (a flower-seller from the market named John), and its connection with a real-life Elisabet who disappeared from their town in the 1940s, is also a little repetitive. I guess there are only so many ways to describe a boy waking up all agog to open a door in his Advent calendar. The ending, and the explanation of the real-life Elisabet's story was both long-winded and incoherent. All this being said, I can't deny that I got some pleasure out of making an Advent ritual of this book, and it certainly kept us focused on the religious aspects of Christmas (non-Christians might prefer to give this one a miss). The particular edition we read, a handsome, almost picture-book sized hard-cover, with appealing illustrations by Rosemary Wells is lovely as a physical object. I've moved it to my son's shelf now -- who knows if he'll ever reread it (I'm fairly sure I won't), but maybe seeing it there will bring back some good Christmas memories for him in the years to come.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

    We were so excited about reading this book. The idea of a magic advent calendar and a part of the story to read each day was really appealing to us but despite having greatly enjoyed Sophie's World by the same author we struggled to enjoy this one. Will perhaps try again another year.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    On 1st December, a young boy named Joachim is given an unusual advent calendar, and behind each door contains a chapter of a story. As the story unfolds, Joachim (and his parents) learn about a young girl named Elisabet who disappeared from Norway years earlier, and a pilgrimage of angels, shepherds and wise men who travel across land and time, to be present when Jesus was born. Unfortunately, I did not particularly enjoy this book. Although I am not religious, I can enjoy reading boo On 1st December, a young boy named Joachim is given an unusual advent calendar, and behind each door contains a chapter of a story. As the story unfolds, Joachim (and his parents) learn about a young girl named Elisabet who disappeared from Norway years earlier, and a pilgrimage of angels, shepherds and wise men who travel across land and time, to be present when Jesus was born. Unfortunately, I did not particularly enjoy this book. Although I am not religious, I can enjoy reading books about religion, but I felt that this particular story was preachy and sanctimonious. Also, while it might be considered a magical tale of a pilgrimage, it could equally be seen as the story of a young girl who was tempted away from her mother by a cute animal, and led away with an angel who promised to look after her, but instead took her away from her home, and left her mother wondering for years about what had happened to her daughter. (Which to me anyway, sounds a bit sinister.) I do think the idea was quite a good one, because it could be a useful tool for learning about the history of certain places, but I just couldn’t connect with it at all. There was no characterisation – I didn’t know Joachim or his parents any better by the last page than I did on the first page, and I felt the same way about Elisabet. The writing just seemed too simplistic, and the story was also somewhat repetitive, and the ending was – possibly deliberately – a bit unclear.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I would have rated this book with 5 stars until I got to the last 4 or 5 pages. I felt like Ralphie in the movie "A Christmas Story", that it was "a crummy commercial". This book is beautifully written, beautifully illustrated (the one I got was illustrated by Rosemary Wells whom I have loved for years), and beautifully set up. It is an advent book, with each day of the advent calendar following a double story. The story of Joachim who is given a Magical Advent Calendar and opens it each day and I would have rated this book with 5 stars until I got to the last 4 or 5 pages. I felt like Ralphie in the movie "A Christmas Story", that it was "a crummy commercial". This book is beautifully written, beautifully illustrated (the one I got was illustrated by Rosemary Wells whom I have loved for years), and beautifully set up. It is an advent book, with each day of the advent calendar following a double story. The story of Joachim who is given a Magical Advent Calendar and opens it each day and reads the message inside each door, and then the story of Elisabet the young Norwegian girl who in 1948 is whisked away by angels to take a trip thru time to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Both stories are lovely, and the addition of sheep, kings of the east, and emperors along Elisabet's trip makes the Christmas story come alive in a lovely way. However. The ending is very poor. It seems there are two possible solutions to the mystery of "what happened to Elisabet?". Elisabet is a real girl who was kidnapped and taken to Bethlehem to be raised in 1948 in the war-torn area that was Palestine as the new nation of Israel was being formed. She has been missing for 45 years, and her mother still grieves the loss of her daughter. Whether Elisabet was kidnapped by an angel, which is what the Magic Advent calendar supposes, she was taken away from her family..... and for what? It seems she works on behalf of refugee families in Palestine? I read this story not knowing that the author was against the formation of the nation of Israel, nor that he was in support of Palestine. Somehow along the way I didn't think that should have mattered. But the author makes his political "commercial" the ending of the story, and for me it ruins it completely. All I could think of at the end was "her poor mother... she was alive all those years and never found her way back to let her family know she was alive? Child kidnapping, what a horrible ending to the advent story!". These thoughts overshadowed the rest of the story, which is that Elisabet was present when Baby Jesus was born. You don't even know what happened once Elisabet got to the manger in Bethlehem. It was almost as though the ending of the story was hijacked by the political commercial. And I for one am sadly disappointed. To quote Mr. Knightley to Emma... "Badly done, Mr. Gaarder. Badly done." Questions that I still have..... who kidnapped Elisabet? If it was the angels, couldn't the angels have brought her back in time and return her to her family? (like in "A Christmas Carol" where the Spirits could do it all in one night?) Was she kidnapped by a Palestinian family? If so, doesn't that say something unflattering about their purposes in kidnapping a child? And why didn't they try to return her to her home? What purpose really is the fact that she lived all this time as a Palestinian refugee have to do with her being at the birth of Christ? Any one want to join me and write a different ending for the book?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jade Heslin

    And the award for biggest pile of crud I’ve ever read in my life goes to: The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. I knew that this was a children’s book. In fact, when it was announced at book club I was a little bit enamoured with the fact that we would be reading a book for kids. So much so that I actually went out and bought the pretty picture-book version with all the little angels and Baby-Jesuses in the margins. What a bloody waste of money that was! The story is ab And the award for biggest pile of crud I’ve ever read in my life goes to: The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. I knew that this was a children’s book. In fact, when it was announced at book club I was a little bit enamoured with the fact that we would be reading a book for kids. So much so that I actually went out and bought the pretty picture-book version with all the little angels and Baby-Jesuses in the margins. What a bloody waste of money that was! The story is about a magic advent calendar and it starts off really well... A little boy (whose name escapes me as he was just so dull) procures this calendar from a strange old man. When he opens the first window, a little bit of paper falls out with the introduction to a story on it. Events continue this very same way through every date in December, with little whatshisface getting up at the crack of dawn to eagerly drink in some more of this tale. A little girl went missing 50 years ago whilst in a department store with her mother. One of the toy sheep got up and scampered away and she followed it all the way to Bethlehem, meeting angels, shepherds and wise men along the way. All the while, time is spinning forever backwards and the procession end up waaaaay back in time at the birth of Jesus Christ. Seems legit. To be perfectly honest, the magical elements of the story were the best bit. This could actually have been alright if it were better written. I know that children thrive on repetition but this was just exhausting. The book is set out like a diary, with the dates counting up through December until Christmas. Every single day we have the same thing: Little boy gets up. Little boy is disturbingly excited about opening his calendar. Paper falls out. Boy reads story. Boy hears mum & dad coming. Boy hides paper. Every day there is a digression from this mundaneness, in which we find out what is going on with the little girl from the past. But even that doesn’t come as such a relief - for each character she meets along the way has a headache of a catchphrase which they utter in each chapter. “Fear not!”, “To Bethlehem, to Bethlehem!” … oh just fuck off! I reckon the little boy in this has some real psychological problems. I had to read it as a comedy if only to stop it from ruining Christmas. He keeps on raving to his parents about a little girl and some sheep, and kings of the orient – they must think he’s ready for a sectioning. As an in-depth study of a little boy’s spiral into declining mental health, this book excels, but as a fairytale for kids at Christmas, it’s a bit shit.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie (Stepping out of the Page)

    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 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.

  10. 4 out of 5

    -amelia-

    2/5 stars Okay and philosophical but the book could've gotten its message across in other ways that weren't repetitive. To be completely honest: The repetition in this book is probably what lowered my rating by a whole star. In fact the whole book is a little dull and I didn't enjoy reading it. As you can guess it was pretty mundane and I didn't extract much from it because I was so bored. I understand that it has philosophical value and that it's oh so deep and lovely and sweet and christmassy 2/5 stars Okay and philosophical but the book could've gotten its message across in other ways that weren't repetitive. To be completely honest: The repetition in this book is probably what lowered my rating by a whole star. In fact the whole book is a little dull and I didn't enjoy reading it. As you can guess it was pretty mundane and I didn't extract much from it because I was so bored. I understand that it has philosophical value and that it's oh so deep and lovely and sweet and christmassy but it's just not for me and I don't see the point in reading it. To it's credit though I liked the format of the book and the time traveling aspect. That's pretty much all the Christmas mystery has going for it though. So to conclude I am not very impressed.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Annet

    An enjoyable book for the Christmas period. Although in the beginning I was a bit bored by especially the story of the girl going to Bethlehem. But, I took the book to Rome on a long city break and started enjoying the read in a suitable Christmas environment...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alina Maria Ciobanu

    Organized in 24 chapters corresponding to the 24 windows of a magical Advent calendar, this book reveals, as a frame story, the journey in space and time of a group of pilgrims from current-day Norway to Bethlehem, when Christ was born, emphasizing the meaning of Christmas along the way.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stef Rozitis

    An interesting and whimsical little story in many ways innocent to the point of naivety but with a certain charm that kept me willing to read. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants something that is only light and hope-filled with no hint of darkness, especially if they are Christian. I suspect someone not from a Christian background may struggle to engage. The book gave hints of deeper thinking and questioning for example in a repeated exhortation to be kind to refugees. This is espec An interesting and whimsical little story in many ways innocent to the point of naivety but with a certain charm that kept me willing to read. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants something that is only light and hope-filled with no hint of darkness, especially if they are Christian. I suspect someone not from a Christian background may struggle to engage. The book gave hints of deeper thinking and questioning for example in a repeated exhortation to be kind to refugees. This is especially well-put by Impuriel (nice name incidentally) the angel on p 203 "Jesus wanted people to share the little they had. If only they could learn to share with each other, nobody would be hungry or poor, or very rich either. But it is better that nobody is poor and hungry than that a few people are rich." Idealistic, but beautifully and practically so. More problematic to me was the acceptance of preset roles (spelled out by Emperor Augustus on p238) and the role of Elizabet within a story that apart from her is extremely male dominated (and the characters are very traditional in their roles). Significantly (and frighteningly) Elizabet is silent at the end where "her" story is finally being told- she cannot speak her own language so must have John speak for her. On a symbolic level I see her as a Christ-character and it is all completely appropriate but as the main and almost only female character in the book her silence is still troubling, as is the fact that when she does not agree with John's telling of her story her opinion is dismissed and merely one of the opinions. Throughout Joachim's father is more rational (for good and ill) than his mother...this also strikes me as a sterotype. I felt that Eliabet's mother's experience also is trivialised and I felt impatient with angels and a "God" that sees this as just collateral damage for whatever mystical happening unfolds in the book (but possibly this is meant to shock). Many, many times I felt there was an underlying complexity to the book but at other times I felt that differences were falsely harmonised because Joachim doesn't like quarrelling and power was all too easily allowed to continue oppressing. I do not in fact see Caesar Augustus as a cute and necessary part of the Jesus story in the way he is portrayed in the book. I wonder if this as intended as a child's or adult's book. In any case it had charm.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Marla

    I have wonderfully fond memories of reading this with my kids each Advent season starting when Anna was about 6 or 7 and Luke was 2 or 3. It has a perfect cadence for rereading; we looked forward to it every year. My children loved it when we had the angel comically shout: "FEAR NOT! FEAR NOT FEAR NOT!" Ah, those were the days. We had hoped to get in a chapter or two this Christmastime when everyone was home, but it didn't happen. Maybe next year....

  15. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Lie

    It isn't Christmas until Joakim has bought his magical Christmas Calendar.

  16. 5 out of 5

    PurplyCookie

    "Christmas is the world's biggest birthday party, for everybody in the world is invited to join in. That's why the party has lasted for so many years." 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 2,000 years to meet the Holy Family in Bethlehem. There Elisabet met angels (Ephiriel, Impuriel, Seraphiel, Cherubiel and Evangeliel), shepherds (Joshua, Jacob, Isaac and Daniel), wise m "Christmas is the world's biggest birthday party, for everybody in the world is invited to join in. That's why the party has lasted for so many years." 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 2,000 years to meet the Holy Family in Bethlehem. There Elisabet met angels (Ephiriel, Impuriel, Seraphiel, Cherubiel and Evangeliel), shepherds (Joshua, Jacob, Isaac and Daniel), wise men (Caspar, Balthazar and Melchior) and other biblical characters (Quirinius, the Governor of Syria and Augustus, Emperor of the Roman Empire) who joined her on her pilgrimage. "We'll also welcome the baby Jesus into the world. He was called God's lamb, because He was just as kind and innocent as the little lamb's fleece is soft. We have to travel two thousand years backwards in time to the moment when Jesus was born." 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. Indeed this is a novel way of re-introducing Christmas in one's reading list not only because of the season but because it is creative, entertaining and informative. Gaarder tells the most famous story in the world freshly, every chapter containing his characteristic twists and turns. Like "Sophie's World" it's a children's book that can be read by adults, and it could even be read together through the advent period, day by day. "There are two ways of becoming wise. One is to travel out into the world and see as much as possible of God's creation. The other is to put down roots in one spot and to study everything that happens there in as much detail as you can. The trouble is that it's impossible to do both at the same time." Book Details: Title The Christmas Mystery Author Jostein Gaarder Reviewed By Purplycookie

  17. 4 out of 5

    Poiema

    If you have ever read Jostein Gaarder's book, Sophie's World, you know this author can twist the plot in such a way as to boggle the mind. The Christmas Mystery is a little more innocuous than Sophie's World, and a little more meaty than most Christmas "fluff" stories. I first read it several years ago on the advise of my friend Krakovianka, who recently updated her original review here. Our family is enjoying it a second time through this year. It is set up similar to an advent calen If you have ever read Jostein Gaarder's book, Sophie's World, you know this author can twist the plot in such a way as to boggle the mind. The Christmas Mystery is a little more innocuous than Sophie's World, and a little more meaty than most Christmas "fluff" stories. I first read it several years ago on the advise of my friend Krakovianka, who recently updated her original review here. Our family is enjoying it a second time through this year. It is set up similar to an advent calendar, where one entry per day can be read aloud. The story of Joachim, a ten-year old Norwegian, begins with his purchase of an old, faded advent calendar which he chooses in lieu of a glitzy one with plastic characters or chocolate behind each flap. His choice is rewarded when he opens the flaps each day to discover an on-going drama centering around a little girl named Elisabet. The drama is written in installments on small slips of paper which are hidden behind each flap on the calendar. Elisabet, the childish subject of the drama, is on a journey. She is chasing a little lamb who is on pilgrimage to Bethlehem to be present at the nativity. Thus, the journey becomes both a geographic journey and a journey back in time. History buffs will love the incidental vignettes woven into the story. As the journey progresses, more and more members of the nativity scene join as traveling companions. In the end, Joachim meets the real Elisabet and the twining of several stories come to a culmination. This book is a nice change of pace from the many syrupy selections that are featured at the big bookstores this time of year.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bregje (B a Reader)

    I loved Gaarder's Sophie's World and was really excited when I found a Christmas story written by him but unfortunately this book was quite a let down. The ending was alright, but most of the book was very boring. There was a lot of repetition in the plot, in the things the characters said and some of the supernatural concepts were explained over and over again as if the reader had completely forgotten what had happened just a chapter ago. There was also very little tension in the book, so I was I loved Gaarder's Sophie's World and was really excited when I found a Christmas story written by him but unfortunately this book was quite a let down. The ending was alright, but most of the book was very boring. There was a lot of repetition in the plot, in the things the characters said and some of the supernatural concepts were explained over and over again as if the reader had completely forgotten what had happened just a chapter ago. There was also very little tension in the book, so I wasn't curious about the ending. I did like the concept of every chapter representing a day in the Advent season and if the story had been more interesting I think it would have been fun to read a chapter a day in the days leading up to Christmas to get into the spirit.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Catka

    Hey look! Christmas is here.

  20. 5 out of 5

    E

    This book means Christmas to me. Well, advent. I have always preferred advent to Christmas anyway - and this is a steadfast part of my own traditions. When the first of December comes around, I have to start reading The Christmas Mystery. It's a beautiful story, successfully intertwining the modern tale of Joachim with Elisabet and Epherial's journey across the world and down the spiral of time. This is better than an advent calendar. As a child, I wished for a magic advent calendar too, but now This book means Christmas to me. Well, advent. I have always preferred advent to Christmas anyway - and this is a steadfast part of my own traditions. When the first of December comes around, I have to start reading The Christmas Mystery. It's a beautiful story, successfully intertwining the modern tale of Joachim with Elisabet and Epherial's journey across the world and down the spiral of time. This is better than an advent calendar. As a child, I wished for a magic advent calendar too, but now I don't need to. This is mine. 2014 - Just as good every year I read it. 2017 - Even though I basically know what is behind every door/the story on each day, this is what makes up part of Christmas every year for me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    An engaging and seasonal read suitable for all ages - the plot centres around a magical advent calendar and travellers on the way to Bethlehem set against a modern time zone. The traditional Christmas story with a twist and a detective story adds a further depth. I enjoyed the story and the historical fact and context. Given the current conflict within the world the important message of "Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all men" seems most poignant. A worthwhile read especially as a chapter a day An engaging and seasonal read suitable for all ages - the plot centres around a magical advent calendar and travellers on the way to Bethlehem set against a modern time zone. The traditional Christmas story with a twist and a detective story adds a further depth. I enjoyed the story and the historical fact and context. Given the current conflict within the world the important message of "Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all men" seems most poignant. A worthwhile read especially as a chapter a day during Advent

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    Two stories intertwined as one! A really interesting novel which I enjoyed with its chapter a day, like an advent calendar. There are some parts where the story could have been expanded and rounded out some more but otherwise a really great read. I registered a book at BookCrossing.com! http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/13868898

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bojana

    I thought that reading this book would be a nice mood booster for the holidays, since I used to love Gaarder's books when I was younger. I was wrong. The book is just tedious for adults, and not very appropriate for children. 1.5 stars, just because I somehow managed to stick with it till the end.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

    We are reading one chapter a day--in the morning or afternoon, not as part of our evening advent time. We quit. I love the idea, but Eli lost interest, truthfully the story was not all that enticing.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Kenyon

    Interesting idea re telling a story through the doors of an advent calendar. I have always thought the old fashioned calendars with a picture rather than a chocolate behind the doors were much more mysterious......

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra Hunter

    A good one to read chapter by chapter to a class of year 4+ in the run up to Christmas. A lovely story, religious theme but also philosophy. I really enjoyed this a few years ago and I'm not religious.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Danielle {halfdesertedstreets}

    It started off slowly and felt a bit juvenile and scattered, but I was won over to its loveliness in the end.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I'm not quite sure what to make of this story. A bit of an odd one.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    This was utter rubbish. Boring, repetitive, twee, and quite frankly, creepy. I gave up reading.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Ducie

    I first discovered this wonderful little book about six years ago and it has become a traditional part of my Christmas preparations. Written in twenty-four parts, to be opened from 1st December to Christmas Eve, it is two stories in one. At its heart is a group of pilgrims - shepherds, sheep, angels, Wise Men, and a little girl from Norway - who travel back in time to visit a stable in Bethlehem. But wrapped around it is the story of Joachim and his parents who gradually uncover the meaning of t I first discovered this wonderful little book about six years ago and it has become a traditional part of my Christmas preparations. Written in twenty-four parts, to be opened from 1st December to Christmas Eve, it is two stories in one. At its heart is a group of pilgrims - shepherds, sheep, angels, Wise Men, and a little girl from Norway - who travel back in time to visit a stable in Bethlehem. But wrapped around it is the story of Joachim and his parents who gradually uncover the meaning of the Magic Advent Calendar they find in an old bookshop. This is a delightful book for children of all ages; I have just finished reading it and will now put it away until 1st December 2018 when I will start it again. Highly recommended.

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