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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 50 years on ... and 2 generations overdue
50 years on ....
Now in my early 60's, I enjoyed reading the long-overdue English translation of this book immensely, having read it some 50 yrs ago in Dutch. Perhaps not quite as much edge-of-your-seat stuff as I remember it, but that's not surprising as it is a book aimed at children after all. My (English-speaking) daughter enjoyed it equally and is now looking...
Published 6 months ago by Satago

versus
0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bit of a struggle
Many good features but ultimately I found this struggle to complete, not sure I could recommend to any young person
Published 2 months ago by Professor Tom Cannon


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 50 years on ... and 2 generations overdue, 13 Jan 2014
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50 years on ....
Now in my early 60's, I enjoyed reading the long-overdue English translation of this book immensely, having read it some 50 yrs ago in Dutch. Perhaps not quite as much edge-of-your-seat stuff as I remember it, but that's not surprising as it is a book aimed at children after all. My (English-speaking) daughter enjoyed it equally and is now looking forward to reading it to her young son who will soon be old enough to read it himself. A truly timeless story in every sense. A brilliant book for younger readers and grandparents alike!
I particularly like the framing of the book which uses the topography of the journey to help visualise the story, bringing it to life. It breaks the (long) story into 3-dimensional chapters which, I guess, help to make it so memorable and easily accessible for younger readers.
In my view, the translation by Laura Watkinson into English is flawless and at no time was I reminded that the book's original text wasn't written in English. I look forward to the next translation of one of Tonke Dragt's books!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best children's books ever, 19 Jan 2014
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This translation of a classic by Tonke Dragt has been so overdue! I've read the German version 30years ago and was keen to introduce it to my children. Depending on your child's maturity in reading I'd recommend it for ages 8plus at least.
Tiuri is a 'knight that is not a knight'- he is asked the night before his knighting ceremony to deliver a secret message to a faraway kingdom and so suddenly is thrown into a very much adult world with intrigue and scheming that has far reaching consequences, also for his own kingdom. He really gets to know the world outside his protected upbringing. An adventure story of growing up and facing one's own decisions, standing up for what is right and finding friendship/kinship on the way. Tiuri isn't a super-hero, he still is a 'boy' (hates that occasionally) and so the reader can identify with him.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Didn't even stop for lunch!, 15 Feb 2014
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An enthralling read. I started it one morning and didn't put it down until the end. The story is exciting and engaging (with many plot twists and gripping moments), but easy enough to share with young ones.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An old friends in new clothes, 14 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Letter for the King (Pushkin Children's Collection) (Kindle Edition)
The hardback version of this book is a beautiful thing in it's own right. The cover and internal illustrations are of a style I find both gorgeous and comforting. This, in combination with the style of the story within, reminded me of the books I read as child; The first ones to transport me to another time and place.

I would describe this book as being like an old friend in new clothes, or someone you've just met but somehow feel like you've known forever.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!, 31 Dec 2013
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My 10 year old received this as a Christmas present and has just spent the last two days reading the book. He asked me to add a review and to describe the story as "awesome!"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic book, 3 Jan 2014
This review is from: The Letter for the King (Pushkin Children's Collection) (Kindle Edition)
I absolutely loved this book! I am a primary school teacher and I needed some great books to recommend to my 10 year olds. I just know they will love it too. It has adventure, excitement, tension, mystery and friendship. Brilliant!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be put off by the unknown name - this is excellent storytelling, 3 Nov 2013
By 
K. J. Noyes "Katy Noyes" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
(Review for NewBooks magazine)

It is nighttime. Dark, silent. There's a loud, insistent knocking on the door. A stranger urgently pleads with you to get a message to the King. You agree. "Do you have his email address? A number to send a text to?" Bish, bash, bosh. Message sent. End of story. Not exactly a thrilling read.

This might be the scenario of The Letter for the King if it were written as a contemporary novel. Well, thank goodness this translation of the original, written in 1962, is a truly old-fashioned (in every good sense of the word) tale of a daring quest through hardship and adversity. No quick way out, no short cuts, no technology. For me, it was a Hobbit / Lord of the Rings-type quest saga without the magic (or the dwarfs), but probably more enjoyable.

When I picked it up, I was daunted by the fact that it's a children's book that tallies up at a rather weighty 450 pages. Would a 10 year old want to wade through a book that size? Would a parent want to read 450 pages to their child?

Well, I now cannot wait for my own toddler to be old enough for me to read this to him. From the first chapter to the last, it was an absolute pleasure, one I as an adult reader enjoyed immensely.

In the great tradition of the Arthurian quest legends, the story concerns a sixteen year old, Tiuri, who, on the eve of his knighting ceremony, is disturbed from his vigil of silence by a knock at the door. Against the rules, he cannot help but break his vow of silence and agree to help the desperate stranger who comes to him seeking help in getting an important letter to the king of a neighbouring land. Knowing he will not now be knighted, Tiuri leaves without money or supplies to find the Black Knight with the White Shield.

But circumstances change, and they require Tiuri to make a choice - should he return home, become a knight and forget about the letter? Or should he sacrifice what he finds important for a greater cause?
He's an honorable, likeable and realistic young hero, and the story follows Tiuri through forests and mountains, as he makes decisions that may make him friends or enemies, meeting knights, robbers and hermits, becoming a noble and brave knight-at-heart. Evil is always close behind, always seeking to steal the letter away.

I couldn't stop reading, to be honest. The language is plain enough for a confident nine-year-old to read alone, but makes a wonderful adventure to share at bedtime too. And for an adult? Immensely enjoyable, traditional quest, one that reading groups might like to use for discussion on Quest Stories and legends, dual-audience books (those that appeal to children and adults), and the role of traditional stories for a modern audience.

It's a well-rounded story, with lots of interesting minor characters, and a `round trip' structure that takes Tiuri back through to his origins and finishes beautifully. I wouldn't want to ask for more from a book for my child. It's vivid and intelligent, a worthy winner of Denmark's Children's Book of the Year, and makes me ask: what other potential classics are there that need desperately to be translated?

One to cherish.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best children book ever, 25 Oct 2011
This review is from: Letter for the King (Paperback)
I have been waiting for this book for a long time! I read the Dutch version and have been wanting to give the translated version to English speaking friends. I never understood why it took so long for it to finally be translated. It's a book you can not put down! Now the movie that was made in 2007-2008 still needs translation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 6 July 2014
fab
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enchantingly wonderful ageless fiction, 3 July 2014
Enchantingly wonderful ageless fiction.

LOL about UK's isolation of children's literature in English translation - about 1%. Go compare to the rest of the world, starting with Europe and ripple out... Our entrenched insularity and lack of a truly "literate" education or upbringing?
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