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We still have a few more weeks of summer and you might be looking for a great Dutch read for your vacation or stay-cation! The latest book I read, The Letter for the King, by Tonke Dragt is an excellent option for these warm summer days. It has everything you might be looking for to keep you captivated: knights, mysterious evil forces, lots of action and even the glimpse of a romance.
Tonke Dragt or Antonia Johanna Willemina Dragt is a Dutch writer who was born in Jakarta (back then the Dutch East Indies). Her story is incredible. She was a prisoner in a Japanse camp during the war and it was there that she wrote her first book with borrowed paper. After moving to Den Haag, Dragt studied in the academie voor beeldende kunsten (academy for visual arts). In 1961, Dragt published her first book Verhalen van de tweelingbroers which earned her a lot of praise as a children’s book writer.
In 1962, Dragt published De brief voor de koning winning the Gouden Griffel award for best youth book of the year. It is a fantastic coming-of-age story that appeals both to children and adults alike.
De brief voor the koning tells the story of Tiuri, a young boy from the kingdom of Dagonaut who in the eve of becoming a knight, leaves it all to deliver a very important letter to the King of Unauwen. Tiuri breaks the rules of keeping vigil the night before the ceremony after he hears a mysterious voice call for help. The journey takes Tiuri across mountains and forests in the hopes of delivering an important letter. Throughout his journey, Tiuri must defend himself from the Red Riders whose mission is to stop him from delivering the letter.
Tiuri’s journey shows readers internal conflicts we can all associate with. He learns to trust his instinct when meeting people even when others tell him not to. He also does not close himself off to help from others and enjoys the kindness and friendship of all those people he meets along the way. At times, Tiuri is ready to give up; he doesn’t even know the contents of the letter. However, he had made a promise to the Black Night with the White Shield and thus he continues his journey.
Fortunately for all of us who loved this book, Netflix has announced that they will produce a new series based on the book. The following video explains more.
Because it is a book for a younger audience, it is ideal for Dutch learners and aficionados! If you’d rather read it in your own language, there is bound to be a translation available. There is also a follow-up story titled Geheimen van het Wilde Woud.
Have you read this book or seen the movie?