Reader Reviewed The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt

The Letter for the King

Written by Tonke Dragt

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Shortlisted for the Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation. Translated by Laura Watkinson

Gripping from its opening moment onwards, this award-winning book that doesn’t miss a beat from its thrilling beginning to its satisfying ending. Disturbed during the night of contemplation before he is made a knight, sixteen-year-old Turi is handed a letter which must be secretly delivered. Keeping his identity hidden and keeping the letter safe at all times, Turi travels through deadly danger in which survival depends on adhering to the chivalric codes of courage, friendship and honesty. A thrilling adventure which is full of heart, now released as a special winter edition.

A Piece of Passion from Adam Freudenheim, Publisher, Pushkin Press and Pushkin Children's Books The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt is the classic Dutch children's book. Already translated into more than a dozen languages, made into a feature film and with over 1 million copies sold, The Letter for the King is one of the most gripping, page-turning novels I've ever read. My 8-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter both loved it and couldn't put it down either. I started reading it aloud to them, and then one morning when my son woke early he creeped into my bedroom and 'stole' the bound proof in order to finish it - later he sheepishly explained that he just couldn't wait for me to finish reading it aloud, he had to know what happened next! For anyone who likes a heart–thumping tale of good vs. evil, of lone young hero desperate to save a kingdom, this is the book for them. This beautiful edition, printed in Italy, includes a wonderful hand–drawn map of the kingdoms of Unuawen and Dagonaut on the endpapers, original illustrations by the author, and is a wonderful gift for any fan of classic fantasy in the Tolkien mould.

Reader Reviews

Kids love to read and so in addition to our expert opinion, a small number of our Lovereading4kids reader review panel members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title. You can read the full reviews here.

  • Freddie, age 8 - 'I loved this book because it is really exciting and has lots of adventures.'
  • Amie Coffman, age 9 - 'An intense and exciting, albeit very long book which is vastly different from anything I have read before!  Don't let the length of this book put you off...It is exciting from the first page.'
  • Traviss Chaytors, age 10 - 'Thrilling book and a must read for everyone capable of reading!'
  • Mukunth Kowsik, age 11 - 'A fantastic book full of courage and bravery that Hobbit fans would really love to read, with loads of action and suspense.'
  • Liberty Annison, age 11 - 'The Letter for the King is a breathtaking book and it draws you in with a fabulous start, an even better middle and a spectacular end.'
  • Dylan Sweet, age 10 - ' I think this brilliant book is an inspiration to readers who have a good sense of adventure.'
  • Ellen Faulkner, age 12 - 'The Letter For The King is a gripping story about a young boy, soon to be knighted, who runs off to deliver a letter to the King across the great mountains. He must not trust anyone. I love this book.'
  • Robert White, age 10 - 'The Letter for the King is a gripping, fast paced, difficult to put down classic adventure set in medieval times.  I loved it!'
  • Avanish, age 9 - 'The book is full of action, adventure and a hint of mystery. If you love books that are adventurous but slow paced then this is the book for you. It’s not an ordinary quest, it’s different in a good way.' 


The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt

When sixteen-year-old Tiuri answers a desperate call for help, he finds himself on a perilous mission that could cost him his life. He must deliver a secret letter to the King who lives across the Great Mountains - a letter upon which the future of the entire realm depends. It means abandoning his home, breaking all the rules and leaving everything behind - even the knighthood that he has dreamed of for so long. The fate of a kingdom depends on just one person...He must trust no one. He must keep his true identity secret. Above all, he must never reveal what is in the letter.

Translated from the dutch by Laura Watkinson.


A fast-moving, wonderful old-style adventure... cinematic in its visual detail... a European classic... far loftier than Harry Potter and beautifully presented in this most attractive edition -- Eileen Battersby Irish Times

Gripping from its opening moment onwards, this award-winning book doesn't miss a beat from its thrilling beginning to its satisfying ending -- Julia Eccleshare

A charming story told simply and captivatingly... the first English translation of a classic of European children's literature which ... deserves to be richly treasured Booktrust

The plot is central, and extremely gripping, but the writing also delivers lovely detail and evocative description Guardian Children's Books

The Letter for the King will get pulses racing... Pushkin Press deserves every praise for publishing this beautifully translated, well-presented and captivating book -- Amanda Craig The Times

The publishing in English of Tonke Dragt 's The Letter for the King brings back ancient, yet deeply pleasant memories. She's always at the top of the list when writers of my generation are asked which books they loved in their childhood, and justly so -- Erwin Mortier

A fantasy about a 16-year-old medieval squire who finds danger, true friendship and first love on a mission to deliver a letter that can save a kingdom. The award-winning translator Laura Watkinson conveys its rich symbolism, vividness and economy of style -- Nicolette Jones Sunday Times

A classic quest narrative... a thoughtful and endearing hero, whose loyalty and nobility - qualities much ignored today - sustain him throughout. Dragt's illustrations are mystical and timeless -- Philip Womack Literary Review

This 1962 pulse-pounding epic follows Tiuri, a young knight-candidate who breaks hits sacred vigil to heed a desperate cry for help. Translated from the Dutch for the first time, this old-school quest story will keep all high-fantasy addicts riveted from the first page Metro

Beautifully constructed... gripping, delightful and true Guardian

A fast-paced quest... Great for high-fantasy fans Metro

An absolute pleasure... immensely enjoyable... vivid and intelligent Newbooks

Fluidly translated by Laura Watkinson [The Letter for the King] is an old fashioned quest story... a wonderfully simple, wonderfully gripping story -- Melanie McDonagh Spectator

Explores themes of bravery, loyalty, and commitment, along with a coming of age story which will inspire budding young readers today, just as it did when first released. The Letter for the King not only caters for a young adult audience but would also be an ideal bedtime story for parents looking to share reading with their children We Love This Book

A compelling story which twists and turns and keeps the reader gripped throughout Parents in Touch

If you find Game Of Thrones too gory or simply want to be ahead of the curve then this is for you. It's an epic adventure that will sweep you up into a world of knights, villainy and peril -- Melissa Cox, Waterstones Stylist

A medieval fantasy of the highest order, action-packed and atmospheric -- Robert Dunbar Irish Times

A cracker Spectator A true page-turner Sunday Times

About the Author

Tonke Dragt

Tonke Dragt was born in Jakarta in 1930 and spent most of her childhood in Indonesia. When she was twelve, she was interned in a camp run by the Japanese occupiers, where she wrote (with a friend) her very first book using begged and borrowed paper. Her family moved to the Netherlands after the war and, after studying at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, Dragt became an art teacher. She published her first book in 1961, followed a year later by The Letter for the King, which won the Children's Book of the Year award and has been translated into sixteen languages. Dragt was awarded the State Prize for Youth Literature in 1976 and was knighted in 2001.

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Book Info


512 pages


Tonke Dragt
More books by Tonke Dragt

Author's Website


Pushkin Children's Books

Publication date

6th November 2014




Publisher Profile

Pushkin Children's Books is an imprint of Pushkin Children's Books


Pushkin Children's Books was launched in 2013 to share tales from different languages and cultures with younger readers, and to open the door to the wide, colourful worlds these stories offer. From picture books and adventure stories to fairy tales and classics, and from fifty-year-old bestsellers to current huge successes abroad, the books on the Pushkin Childrens list reflect the very best stories from around the world, for our most discerning readers of all: children. Twitter @PushkinPress

Publisher's Website

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