King of the Copper Mountains

When the heart of the 1000-year-old King Mansolain slows down and he finds himself at death’s door, the animals hurry to the ancient Copper Castle under the mountains to save his life. They take it in turns to tell him stories, hoping to give the Wonder Doctor time to find the magic herb needed to keep the king’s heart ticking.

Original title
Het sleutelkruid
Paul Biegel

A rabbit comes along, and a sheep, a swallow, a duck, ten bees, not to mention a wolf, a lion and a three-headed dragon. Will their stories help to keep King Mansolain alive? How can anyone read or listen to this story without falling in love with its magic?

Master storyteller Biegel places one narrator after another in the spotlight, capturing their little quirks in just a few sentences. Before you know it, you’re hanging on their every word. The attraction of this book is its dazzling variety. The rabbit misses his brother. The bees sing the ballad of the horse with the golden hooves. The town mouse and the field mouse tell funny stories. The wolf, the lion and the dragon all have unpleasant experiences with witches.

The stories are touching, exciting and funny. This is a lovely book, beautifully illustrated, and the ending is all that can be desired.

Times Literary Supplement

Their stories appear to be connected somehow, but it only becomes apparent exactly how at the end, as everyone waits for the last knock on the door. King of the Copper Mountains (1964) was Biegel’s third book and sealed his breakthrough as a writer. It remains a treasured, timeless classic.

One of those rare books which should be a part of every child’s growing up. […] these stories are unusual, the animals enchanting and the books is held brilliantly together. This is one of the best modern storybooks I have read.

Daily Telegraph

Ageless in the right sort of way.

The Guardian
Paul Biegel
Paul Biegel (1925-2006) dreamed of becoming a pianist, but finally, by way of a failed law degree and a period spent in the USA, ended up as a writer for a television guide and a cartoon studio. In 1962 he debuted as a children’s author with 'De gouden gitaar' (The Golden Guitar).
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