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The Solitaire Mystery
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New or Used: $15.38
Twelve-year-old Hans Thomas lives alone with his father, a man who likes to givehis sons lessons about Life and has a penchant for philosophy. Hans Thomas' mother left when he was four (to find' herself) and the story begins when father and son set off on a trip to Greece, where she now lives, to try to persuade her to come home. En rout, in Switzerland, Hans Thomas is given a magnifying glass by a dwarf at a petrol station, and the next day he finds a tiny book in his bread roll which can only be read with a magnifying glass. How did the book come to be there? Why does the dwarf keep showing up? It is all very perplxing and Hans Thomas has enough to cope with, with the daunting prospect of seeing his mother. Now his journey has turned into an encounter withthe unfathomable...or does it all have a logical explanation?
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Promotional Information

From the author of the international bestseller Sophie's World, which has now sold over 12 million copies worldwide Jostein Gaarder's UK sales now stand at 1.75 million All Gaarder's paperbacks have been Guardian Top 100 Fastsellers and Sunday Times bestsellers Sophie's World was still on the bestseller list seven months after publication and received unparalleled media attention The Solitaire Mystery can be read as the prequel to the bestselling Sophie's World 'Intellectually arresting, emotionally uplifting' Max Davidson, Daily Telegraph

About the Author

Jostein Gaarder is the author of SOPHIE'S WORLD, a huge bestseller in over 40 countries. He was born in Oslo in 1952 and lives there now with his wife and two sons.

Reviews

Gaarder (Sophie's World (LJ 9/1/94) once again presents a charming fantasy in which a young person discovers his identity and a missing parent by means of written communications that are not to be shared with grown-ups. Hans Thomas and his bibulous father are driving to Greece from Norway in search of Hans's long-missing mother. They encounter a dwarf who gives Hans a magnifying glass with which he can (secretly) read a miniature book delivered to him in a sticky bun. Though the symbolism of the deck of cards in the mystery is transparent, the reader will enjoy the cleverness with which the story is assembled. Less didactic than Sophie's World, this novel still probes philosophical questions. Recommended for adult and young adult collections in public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/96.]‘Ann Irvine, Montgomery Cty. P.L., Silver Spring, Md.

YA‘There are both similarities and differences between this novel and Gaarder's previous book, Sophie's World (Farrar, 1994). Both are fantasies involving an interconnected story-within-a-story, an absent parent, and lessons in philosophy. Here, however, the emphasis is on the stories and not the lessons, and the characters really come alive. Hans Thomas, 12, and his father journey from Norway to Greece, seeking Hans Thomas's mother, who abandoned them when the boy was 4. During their journey, Hans Thomas is given a tiny book and a magnifying glass so he can read about the fantastic adventures of Baker Hans, who was marooned on a island where playing cards came to life, rainbow soda altered taste and consciousness, and beautiful goldfish figured importantly. YAs will find the fairy tale in the tiny book pure entertainment; the larger story explores issues such as dependence on a single parent with a drinking problem, a boy's feelings about a mother he can barely remember, and the child's struggle to understand a troubled family history.‘Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA

Admirers of Gaarder's first translated work, the bestselling Sophie's World, will be familiar with this Norwegian ex-philosophy teacher's talent for transforming what is essentially a vigorous round of mental aerobics into unpredictable, absorbing fun. This novel, which was published in Norway before Sophie's World, is another offbeat delight, ontology masquerading as an ingeniously constructed fairy tale. It tells the story of the 12-year-old Hans Thomas, who is driving with his father from Norway to Greece in a quest to retrieve his errant mother. The plot thickens when a midget at a gas station on the Swiss border slips Hans Thomas a miniature magnifying glass, and then the next evening, on a stop in Dorf, a kindly old baker presents him with a correspondingly tiny book and swears him to secrecy. As Hans Thomas sneaks looks at the book, between sightseeing and philosophizing with his father on their trip south, it gradually unfurls a strange story of a shipwrecked sailor and his rather unusual game of solitaire‘a story that has puzzling links with Hans Thomas's own life. By the time the mystery is resolved, Hans Thomas and his family learn important lessons about themselves and their past, as Gaarder walks the reader through a complex inquiry into the nature of being and destiny. Less light-footed than Sophie's World, this work relies on fantastical symbolism for its central allegory; some readers will find a plot that hinges on such elements as a magic vanishing island and sparkling Rainbow Soda too corny for their tastes. Others, however, will deem it enchanting, especially since all the whimsy is balanced by deft portraits of Hans Thomas and his gruff, good-hearted father. (July)

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