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Avatar: The Last Airbender: North and South, Part Three by Gene Luen Yang
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The Once Upon a Time Map Book by B.G. Hennessy and Peter Joyce
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Questions Asked by Jostein Gaarder
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Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil, Vol. 1 by Jeff Lemire
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Favorites of the first half of 2018
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (July 02, 2018)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (July 09, 2018)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (July 16, 2018)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (July 23, 2018)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (July 30, 2018)
June 2018 Sources
June 2018 Summary

Road Essays
Are small towns uhoric or utopic?
An update on the road narrative reading
Road Narrative Spectrum
What isn't a road narrative: towards an ontological understanding of the road's importance

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Questions Asked: 07/26/18

Questions Asked

Questions Asked by Jostein Gaarder, Akin Duezakin (illustration), and Don Bartlett (translation) is a Norwegian picture book about a child on a walk with their dog and lost in the thoughts. Questions Asked in its original form is called Det spørs which means "it depends," a far more opened ended title than what we get in the translation.

Much of the heavy lifting of this story is done by Duezakin's illustrations. While the child is thinking about different questions of life and the human condition, they walk through a forest and are soon followed by a ghostly figure. As the story unfolds the child's relationship to the ghost becomes more and more apparent until it's fairly obvious that the child was once a twin.

Akin Duezakin's illustrations are nearly monochromatic and etherial. They remind me of the art style in Three Shadows (Tres Ombres) by Cyril Pedrosa (2007). Given the book's pondering on life, death, family, grief, and self harm, it's an appropriate and heart-wrenching style to use.

Although the book is Norwegian it can be read against the American road narrative components and comes remarkably close to a recurring theme in Supernatural. If the ghost who is following the child is a twin, then we have an orphan (orphan in the sense of being the only living character besides the dog) who goes off the beating path to a wilderness lake. In the road narrative color codification, it would be #FF9966 — or about two thirds up the spectrum to full fledged fantasy or horror.

The child while at the lake goes through the motions of the last time there. Now if they were Sam or Dean and the other brother were dead (both have been dead more than once), the act of going to the lake would be the start of resurrecting the other brother. Here, the child seems to be on a path of repeating the accident that killed the twin (as evidenced by the worried expressions on both the dog and the ghost). Whether or not this is carelessness brought on by grief or it's self harm is left to the imagination (the 'it depends' part of the reading).

This scene at the lake though is crucial to understand the closeness between the siblings and to see an interesting twist on orphan magic. In American orphan magic stories where there is a dead sibling, the living sibling is the one imbued with the magic. It is the living one who can bring back the dead one. Here, though, it is the ghost who saves the living twin.

As this book is just one Norwegian book in a sea of American ones, I'm not going to make an theories on if this reversal of orphan magic is the norm. If you happen to know of other Norwegian examples where a ghost saves a living person, drop me a comment.

Five stars

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