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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Orange Girl (The)
by Jostein Gaarder
Age Range: 14+
Georg, the 15-year-old narrator has been given a – ‘letter to the future’ from his
father, who died when he was four years old. His father tells him the story of the
Orange Girl – a mysterious and beautiful young woman he encountered on a tram
in Oslo while a student. Also woven into the letter is his father’s curiosity about the
Hubble Space Telescope and whether it has revealed any more secrets of the
What does emerge from this short novel, encapsulated in the letter from father to son, is the picture of a young man in love with life and the universe, who learns that he is dying and that his time is running out. Georg comes to realise that the Hubble Telescope is a metaphor for his father’s letter to the child he will never see grow up. When Georg discovers the identity of the Orange Girl he begins to understand why his father believed the story was so important.
A poignant story with contrasting parts – the ‘fairy tale story’ of The Orange Girl and the Hubble Telescope, around which are framed philosophical questions of existence.
(Outside In: Children’s Books in Translation, Milet, 2005)