Rachel Khoo


Posted by Rachel

July 16th, 2014

On My Bookshelf – The Letter for the King

The Letter for the King book cover

Note: this giveaway is now closed. I was ready to drop my measuring cups and mixing bowls, and head for the hills for an adventure in the mountains while reading ‘The Letter for the King’.

It’s a gripping but easy read. I love reading a variety of novels and stories, but sometimes when I’m chasing a deadline or in the middle of recipe testing, I really need something that isn’t too much of a challenge. And even though Tonke Dragt’s ‘The Letter for the King’ is aimed at young adults, it really is a fascinating read for adults of any age.

Whilst I’m not usually a huge fantasy fan (am yet to jump on board the ‘Game of Thrones’ books), I really loved reading a different genre. And it was a thrilling to escape to the treacherous terrain of the Great Mountains, as I joined sixteen-year-old Tiuri on his quest (to deliver a secret letter the King).

A few chapters in, and you’ll be quickly gunning for Tiuri. As the book’s main character, he maintains a strong sense of integrity, despite the hardships he goes through. I found it an inspiring read, and loved anticipating who he was going encounter next on his journey.

First published in Dutch in 1962, ‘The Letter for the King’ (De brief voor de Koning) is now considered an international favourite, and I’m actually quite surprised that I’ve only just heard of it now. Over the years it has been translated into many languages, and luckily there’s now an English translation. Dutch author Tonke Dragt has a truly fascinating story. As a young girl, she grew up in Dutch Indonesia, and her far-from-ordinary childhood included three years in a Japanese occupied prisoner-of-war camp (during this period of her life Tonke wrote her first book).

The Letter for the King illustrations

I was first drawn to the beautifully illustrated cover (who said that we don’t judge books by their covers!). And I was interested to learn that Tonke illustrates most of her own books – including the gorgeous sketches on the cover and dotted throughout ‘The Letter for the King’. I particularly loved the detailed map inside the front cover – it really sets the tone for the adventures to come. I’ve nearly finished the illustrations for my own book, and I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from other authors who illustrate their own books (novels such as this one, or children’s picture books).

The Letter for the King illustrations

Love the details in this map of the two Kingdoms featured in the book

Has anyone seen the Dutch movie version? And here’s an interesting book review that discusses some of the spiritual elements of the book.

‘The Letter for the King’ by Tonke Dragt, available here.

GIVEAWAY: I’ve got a special limited edition copy of ‘The Letter for the King’ to giveaway, thanks to Pushkin Children’s Press and Riot Communications. For your chance to win, leave a comment here on my blog (bonus points if you spread the word via your own blog, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook – include the hashtag #LetterForTheKing). I’ll be drawing a winner on Tuesday July 22, so you have until Monday July 21 to enter. Good luck!

Fine print: this giveaway is open to readers based in the UK (or you’re most welcome to enter from other destinations, if you have a friend/family member based in the UK who can receive the prize at their address). Any queries, send me an email.

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19 thoughts on “On My Bookshelf – The Letter for the King

  1. Hello Rachel,

    Thank you for keeping us updated with your gorgeous recipes and illustrations!!

    Looking forward to reading more!



  2. I loved this book as a kid and can’t wait to read it in English soon!

    Must say I didn’t really love the film, but if you have no knowledge of the book, it’s good enough 🙂

  3. Thank you for bringing this classic to my attention!

    My own favourite novel is ‘The Cossacks’ by Leo Tolstoy; it’s short !!!

  4. Oooh always on the lookout for top read recommendations! Thank you Rachel, and incidentally my darling children have filled the Sky planner with your TV series, watching both before and after school! #minifoodies

  5. Hi Rachel,
    I love your books and your recipes.
    My favourite one now is the liver & figues salad.
    Thank you for sharing your favourite books with us.

  6. I found your cooking show quite by accident on a Saturday morning…Lucky ME! I LOVE Paris–the City, the food (is anything better than raclette? ok, maybe Salade Boyarde), the sights, the people, the history and architecture. I loved your show! Best wishes <3

  7. Dear Rachel

    Sincere thanks for this insightful thoughts on this book, the illustrations look lovely and it reminds me of my favourite book – The Hobbit, very similar style to Tolkien, with the maps.

    Thank you always being so creative – you inspired me to be more creative with my cooking, ‘My Little Paris Kitchen” is my favourite cookbook

    Continued success to you


  8. Hello Rachel,

    I have been wanting to watch your shows but never get a chance to because I don’t like in the U.K. But I hope you continue doing what you love (cooking and drawing)! God bless you!

    Love, Dara

    1. Hi Dara, thank you! Depending on where you are located, my show is airing in lots of different countries around the world (for example on BBC Worldwide networks in Asia/ Scandinavia/South Africa/Middle East, and also on the Cooking Channel in the US.) Rachel

  9. Hi Rachel 🙂

    Tonke Dragt is fantastic. I recently read a collection of her fantasy short stories and they were a refreshing change from the Joyce and Sophocles I have to study for my degree!!

    Since you mentioned the illustration of books, have you seen Arthur Rackham’s work? It’s absolutely stunning.


  10. I watched your show on tv for the first time this morning and loved your presentation. I am anxious to read this book also. THanks for all the info.

  11. Hello Rachel,

    Thanks for the information on the letter for the king. I would love to enter a chance to win a copy.
    I am at the moment living in South Africa but my family in the UK so if I’m lucky could get a copy posted there.

    If you ever want to film a cooking program in Cape Town I would be happy to help,

    Loving the blogs and recepies.

    Tazeen Dutton

  12. Hello Rachel,

    Thanks for the information on the letter for the king. I would love to enter a chance to win a copy.
    I am at the moment living in South Africa but my family in the UK so if I’m lucky could get a copy posted there.

    If you ever want to film a cooking program in Cape Town I would be happy to help,

    Loving the blogs and recipes.

    Tazeen Dutton

  13. Perfect! Ive been looking for a new book so this will be right up my alley. By the way, i seem to ALWAYS jusge a book by its cover!

  14. Hi Rachel, really love your cooking shows. I’m from Singapore but spend most of my time in Belgium. My favorite channel is NJAM! & Libelle & it seems you’re on both channels – great! Keep up the good (& delicious!) work. Cheers & Merry Christmas – Happy 2015.

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