What questions should we be asking our children? Or more importantly, what questions should they be asking us?
Questions Asked, asks the tough questions we probably avoid discussing with our children or ones we think are too in-depth for them. In this we may be wrong – children are a lot savvier than what we give them credit for (I know this all too well from my cousin’s little ones, and the eldest is only three!)
Gaarder begins from a wide perspective, investigating the world as a whole and why we are here. In-depth questions are exhibited, albeit with a philosophical approach which tenderly prompts children to think in a comprehensive way. The second page ventures even further, asking us what other forms of life may be present in the universe.
Each panel of questions are accompanied by soft pastel illustrations, dream-like in their representation and portraying their own nostalgic story of a boy exploring the world. They expertly create a sense of a question being asked, successfully reflecting the wondering and questioning mind, almost ethereal in their form.
We are then referred to complex questions directed towards ourselves, such as the workings of our inner body and how our physical being connects with our mental awareness.
How do my legs go where I want them to go while my mind is elsewhere?
One of my favourite questions is the notion of contentment and how that can be achieved.
Do I need to have a lot of possessions to be happy?
For me, this poses one of the most significant questions in the book. In today’s age, it seems that one needs wealth, fame and fortune to be ‘happy’. I’ve never been one of those people. There is so much more to life which is far more valuable than materialistic luxuries, such as love and friendship, which provides a crucial lesson to all young children.
Gaarder even explores relationships between other mammals, opening the way for children to realise that there can be friendships with all types of creatures, not just with human beings.
Can an animal be my best friend?
Of course, being someone with an enormous fondness for animals, this would be another question favoured by myself and one I’d surely like to teach my own children (when I decide to have some that is…). I’d want my children to respect and love all forms of life other than their own and to understand that positive connections can be made with every living creature.
I suppose you could say that Questions Asked is what you make of it as each question will lead readers on an alternative path, although some questions seem to direct individuals to a similar destination, like the above concepts of values and friendship.
Whilst peering through this charming publication, I found it reminiscent of Jostein Gaarder’s, Sophie’s World, an addictive blend of mystery, philosophy and fantasy, which became an international phenomenon selling over 40 million copies.
On the whole, Questions Asked, guides the way for young children to broaden their minds, inducing the formation of their own thinking and understanding. Each question is incredibly simplistic, even elementary, and yet unbelievably powerful in their delivery. The concepts presented in Questions Asked are bold and challenging, almost daring in their audacity, however the soft whimsical illustrations accompanying each one helps to convey their lesson gently, making for an enchanting and thoughtful edition.
(£10.99, h/b, 72pp, 9780914671664)