by Jostein GaarderI have long been curious about all of Gaarder's titles (e.g., Sophie's World) but this is the only one I've read so far. Gerry's mom placed it beside my bed when we went to England for Christmas 2002, so I read it to myself that year, and then the next year to Ben and Sam as a read-aloud for Advent 2003. The cover is brightly illustrated to resemble an Advent Calender, with miniature pictures of angels, castles, ships, sheep. Each chapter begins with a similar illustration, opening the door to another place and time. We followed along on a world map to track the fascinating progress of the characters, as each day they crossed another threshold, disappearing into world history. We learned so much on this intriguing journey and could hardly wait to see how the mystery would resolve itself on Christmas Eve.