Kids love solving puzzles. There are a bunch of classic kids' puzzles: Put the circle-shaped peg in the circular hole. Assemble a map of the United States. Find the lock that fits the key your dead father left you.
Some kids never outgrow solving puzzles. Those kids often become readers. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a puzzle in book form, a literary Rubik's Cube, or a textual Cut the Rope. The quest Oskar's on doesn't have any rules, so it puts his cleverness to the test in a bunch of real-world situations. The Amazing Race, eat your heart out.
Questions About Cunning and Cleverness
Why does Oskar's Dad send him on so many Expeditions?
Does Oskar always think things through logically?
Do you think Oskar is more clever than an average nine-year-old? Is Oskar too clever for his own good?
How would the story be different if Oskar weren't as resourceful as he is?
Chew on This
Oskar's Dad teaches him to be a critical thinker so that his son won't have to work in a retail job like his.
Because Oskar's so intelligent and resourceful, it might be easy to assume he's coping better than he really is.