Tonke Dragt writes and illustrates books of adventure, fantasy and fairy tales. She was born in 1930 in Jakarta. When she was twelve, she was imprisoned in a Japanese camp, where she wrote her very first book using begged and borrowed paper. After the war, she moved to the Netherlands with her family, and eventually became an art teacher. She published her first book in 1961, and a year later this was followed by her most famous story, The Letter for the King, which won the Children's Book of the Year Award and has been translated into sixteen languages. She was awarded the State Prize for Youth Literature in 1976 and was knighted in 2001.
Adventures of the classic kind await in The Secrets of the Wild Wood, the sequel to The Letter for the King, Tonke Dragt's unmissable Arthurian-inflected tale written in Dutch in 1962 and recently translated into English by Laura Watkinson. In this one, Tiuri must venture into the Wild Wood in search of a brother knight, and encounter all kinds of dangers. Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year 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 The Sunday Times 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 Beautifully constructed... gripping, delightful and true -- Philip Womack Guardian 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 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 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 ...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 The plot is central, and extremely gripping, but the writing also delivers lovely detail and evocative description. Guardian Kids Books The story has the quality of a legend, a tale of ancient times. Over a million copies of the book have been sold worldwide. The Letter for the King has everything. Nederlands Dagblad There ought to be a warning written on it: "Watch out: Whoever reads this book will forget everything that's happening around them!" From the first sentence, the pages turn into a cinema screen, and no director could have created more beautiful or gripping images. Die Zeit It is fascinating, captivating in the same way as Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. As well as the familiar battle between good and evil, we are presented with a discovery of true chivalry. Schager Courant This fabulous knightly adventure... deserves a place in anyone's suitcase. De Volkskrant 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 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 An absolute pleasure... immensely enjoyable... vivid and intelligent. Newbook The Letter for the King is a pulse pounding adventure that doesn't miss a trick from its intriguing opening to its thrilling ending. This cinematic quest story will keep readers of all ages riveted to the final page. Be entranced by a classic that has taken its time to reach us, but was well worth the wait. Young Post (South China Morning Post)