A generously illustrated, award-winning Dutch storybook, with picaresque adventures and alternately sober and giddy characters. In a traditional fantasy opening, Sophie is confined to bed. Her parents and tutor are impatient with her curiosity about the meaning of life, but one evening--""with two red spots on her cheeks, from her fever and the excitement""--she sees her toys come to life and mount a play called What Life Has to Offer in her toy theater. Emboldened and intrigued, Sophie joins as a star player--and is swept into a series of adventures illustrating such universal problems as the oppression of the poor. Whether caught in a home for unfortunate children, escaping prison, or aiding her lively, changeable doll, Lanky Flop, Sophie's suffers through and enjoys her vivid experiences. An Andersenesque coda recounts Sophie's parents' grief at her death, but Sophie's spirit triumphs: she again meets her friends, who take her on ""an endless journey."" The clever drawings on every page masterfully evoke light--and the story's surprising levity. Although very European--probably too much so for many Americans, without careful introduction--the book's serious theme and high creativity merit wide consideration.