Hello? Is Anybody There?

Jostein Gaarder, Author, James Anderson, Translator, Sally Gardner, Illustrator Farrar Straus Giroux $15 (144p) ISBN 978-0-374-32948-8
A boy has a dreamlike encounter with a wise child who has fallen to earth from a spaceship in Gaarder's (Sophie's World) limp imitation of Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince. The page layout directly recalls that classic, and the illustrations even feature the same small planet and very similar-looking characters. The setup promisingly suggests the book is about a child who must reimagine his position in the world because of the arrival of a new sibling. As Joe waits alone at home for his parents to return from the hospital with a baby, he meets Mika, a boylike alien who teaches Joe that there are worldviews other than his own. Their conversations, however, are unfocused and somehow never urgent, only occasionally touching on issues related to Joe's becoming a big brother. They discuss the process of evolution, whether animals can think, how babies are born, the five senses, the existence of God, the structure of time, and the concept of meeting together on a mountaintop when each one lives in a metaphorical valley. Repeatedly, Gaarder reminds readers that certain ideas are important: ""What Mika had said seemed to give a whole new meaning to everything we'd been talking about."" Overall, a tepid exercise. Ages 7-12. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998
Release date: 09/01/1998
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 978-0-7528-1834-4
Hardcover - 978-0-7540-7814-2
Hardcover - 978-0-7540-6257-8
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