Questions Asked


Published: Coming May 9, 2017


SKU: N/A Category:

By Jostein Gaarder
Illustrated by Akin Düzakin
Translated from Norwegian by Don Bartlett

Best known for his highly acclaimed novel Sophie’s World, Jostein Gaarder writes for both children and adults. Yet his work for younger readers does not shy away from philosophical problems. In Questions Asked, Gaarder poses a list of questions about human life and the world around us: Where does the world come from? Can anyone know what I think? How do my legs go where I want them to go while my mind is elsewhere? Can anyone do real magic tricks? Can I love another person as I love myself? These answerless questions merge with the beautiful illustrations of Akin Düzakin, two-time winner of the Brage Prize, into a tale of friendship, love, and grief – and of daring to think about life as you live it.

Published: May 9, 2017

$14 hardcover – ISBN: 978-0-914671-66-4
$10 ebook – eISBN: 978-0-914671-67-1


The publication of this translation has been made possible through funding from NORLA, Norwegian Literature Abroad.

This gem... is a simple list of big questions all of us would do well to ask about life and how best to live it. As the topics flit around delightfully, it avoids being either heavy-handed or precious... Any of these could spur a deep conversation with a curious kid — or adult. "Are experiences more real when I’m awake than when I’m dreaming?" Good question.
Maria Russo, The New York Times Book Review

Jostein Gaarder introduced children to philosophy with his novel Sophie's World, and this little picture book looks as if it would do the same for younger children...a good starting point for discussion for infants and juniors.
Diana Barnes, The School Librarian

This unusual book is really two books working together to make something new. In a series of evocative illustrations, readers follow a boy through a field into woods, and into a ghost story—a story of memory, love and loss. On facing pages, a series of questions run parallel to the story. Among them are questions central to our understanding of the world and our place in it—an excellent introduction to philosophy. Every question in this book is one that you could discuss for hours. The book is lovely in and of itself, but a true wonder for the conversations it will foster between you and your child.

Annie Farrell, Labyrinth Books

Moving and meditative . . . infectiously introspective ... Anything’s possible here. Give this eerily enchanting, one-of-a-kind collection to curious youngsters—and prepare for discussion.

Briana Shemroske, Booklist

Jostein Gaarder brings out the existentialist in even the youngest reader... [A] story about love, death, and many topics in between... provide[s] an opportunity for readers of all ages to explore their own feelings on these same subjects and the world around them. Quiet, respectful, and touching.

Kirkus Reviews

A lovely and probing book for older readers unafraid to ponder deep questions of philosophy.

Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA (Youth Services Book Review)

This book had me hooked from the very first page. I loved how the casual illustrations and seemingly random questions were able to tell such a deep and heartbreaking story, and I loved how this book showed confidence in children’s capacity to understand the world around them and think deeply. I adored the illustrations, and the questions left me thinking a long time after I’d put the book down. 5/5

Silke Wadskær Mølgaard, Silkreads

The questions are certainly provocative, begging for reflection.

Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

Fans of Gaarder will love this book. It’s definitely one to treasure; to be delved into again and again. Whilst no answers are provided it will enable naturally inquisitive children (and adults) to discuss and explore their own answers.

Outside in World

Wonderful... This book is a kid’s perfect philosophical companion. In it one experiences the joy of thinking and the growth of wisdom, imagination, and human values.

Literatur Magazin

Gaarder and Düzakin prove themselves to be an evenly matched pair. Both of them succeed in opening spaces for thought and associations; both of them prompt us, with this clever, poetic, and lightly melancholic book, to find our own answers to existential questions.


The text and pictures are inseparable. Unless you want to miss the story completely, you cannot skip one or the other. It is beautiful.

Pages d'encre

Akin Düzakin plays with our feelings and thoughts, obliging us to question ourselves, to reflect not only on the story of the boy in his illustrations, but – almost in spite of us – on our own story, too... You should read the text and pictures separately, at first, then together, then start over again and again to grasp the incredible force of this book and to savor every one of its subtleties.


Philosophical themes intertwine in this illustrated story that speaks to us of friendship, being, love, the unknown, fear, and the courage we need to live our own lives and know what and who we really are.

El Mar de tinta

A book that fosters commonality and that brings us closer together.

Luxemburger Wort

Questions Asked is extraordinarily profound and encourages readers to seek answers to their own questions. Perfectly complemented by the beautiful illustrations by Akin Düzakin, author Jostein Gaarder provides a deeply philosophical work that will resonate with readers both young and old

Kendal A. Rautzhan, Canton Rep

Both remarkable books in very different ways, these young reader titles are a marvel of art, story, and imagination.
Laura Farmer, The Gazette: Eastern Iowa

Intimate and introspective... A haunting and provocative reminder that the void left by a person’s death or departure is often filled by difficult, even unanswerable questions.

Publisher's Weekly

Kids will have no trouble discerning the meaningful story told within the pages of Questions Asked. Though there is no dialogue, the boy’s questions, paired with the magical illustrations, tell a powerful, compelling story of love, loss, sorrow, and eventually new hope.

Sue Morris, Kid Lit Reviews

A series of thought-provoking questions, mashed up with Düzakin's dreamy, calming illustrations.... This is a special book for mature readers and budding philosophers... They will find a lot to chew on and discuss.

School Library Journal

Questions Asked is extraordinarily profound and encourages readers to seek answers to their own questions.

Kendal Rautzhan, Reading Eagle

My favorite question is, “Do ghosts and angels exist?” And my answer is no because no one can prove that. At least, I think so. At the same time, I am afraid of darkness, too!! The illustrations are very good and blend with the reader’s thoughts. The author did a great job of compiling all these questions. It is a great book–read and enjoy it.

Roshini, Age 9, Kids' Book Buzz


A marvellously rich book. Its success boils down to something quite simple - Gaarder's gift for communicating ideas.

The Guardian

Challenging, informative and packed with easily grasped, and imitable, ways of thinking about difficult ideas.


Remarkable...what Jostein Gaarder has managed to do is condense 3000 years of thought into 400 pages; to simplify some extremely complicated arguments without trivialising extraordinary achievement.

Sunday Times

A whimsical and ingenious mystery novel that also happens to be a history of philosophy... What is admirable in the novel is the utter unpretentiousness of the philosophical lessons.

Washington Post

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Read Jostein Gaarder’s rumination on how he might include climate change if he wrote Sophie’s World today.