The King of the Copper Mountains

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Pub Date 12 Apr 2022 | Archive Date 18 Feb 2022
Pushkin Press, Pushkin Children's Books

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A timeless and enchanting children's fantasy classic with a loyal fan base.

At the end of his thousand-year reign of the Copper Mountains, old King Mansolain is tired and his heart is slowing down. When his attendant, the Hare, consults The Wonder Doctor, he is told he must keep the King engaged in life by telling him a story every night until the Doctor can find a cure.

The search is on for a nightly story more wonderful than the last, and one by one the kingdom's inhabitants arrive with theirs; the ferocious Wolf, the lovesick Donkey, the fire-breathing three-headed Dragon. Last to arrive is the Dwarf, with four ancient books and a prophecy that the King will live for another thousand years - but only if the Wonder Doctor returns in time.
A timeless and enchanting children's fantasy classic with a loyal fan base.

At the end of his thousand-year reign of the Copper Mountains, old King Mansolain is tired and his heart is slowing...

Advance Praise

A triumphant piece of magic' -- Observer

'Amusing, endearing and intensely moving' -- Daily Telegraph

'The best book of all for this age [7+]' -- The Times

A triumphant piece of magic' -- Observer

'Amusing, endearing and intensely moving' -- Daily Telegraph

'The best book of all for this age [7+]' -- The Times

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781782693390
PRICE US$13.95 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

Although he’s reigned for a thousand years King Mansolain’s almost forgotten, as he sits in his castle in the depths of the copper mountains, alone except for his faithful companion the hare who takes care of the castle and sleeps on the king’s long, magnificent beard. But now the king’s unwell and only a potion made from the Golden Speedwell can save him. The local Wonder Doctor sets out on a dangerous quest for this elusive plant, sending an array of animals including a wolf, rabbits, a three-headed dragon, and quarrelsome ducks to entertain the king while he’s away searching. A Dutch classic from the sixties, I really enjoyed this charming children’s book, I particularly loved the domestic scenes between the animals, all kept in check by the hare who bakes cakes and distributes lashings of toast in between listening to the animals’ tales. It’s nicely illustrated by Sally Collins and fluidly translated by Gillian Hume and Paul Biegel.

Thanks to Netgalley and publisher Pushkin Children's for an arc

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ahhh this was such a fun book!!!!!! the illustrations were really cute and engaging and so was the plot! this book would definitely appeal to younger readers more, but nevertheless it was great! 4/5 stars.

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This was exactly what I wanted it to be - cozy, heartwarming, whimsical, and just a little bit strange. The cover is gorgeous and eye-catching, and I loved the characters to bits. That's saying a lot, because this isn't my typical genre. Overall, wonderful, wonderful book.

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This is such an adorable book. From the story, the characters, the writing and the pictures, which really added a new depth to the story, I loved everything about it. Children will love this book whether iots being read to them or they are reading it themselves it will send their imaginations into the copper mountains and beyond. A really enjoyable read.

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This is a beautiful fairy tale, originally published in Dutch in the 1960s. The way it is told through a succession of stories reminded me of the Arabian Nights. I would imagine it's great for reading aloud and sharing with your children. I love the gorgeous cover illustration!

Thank you to NetGalley and Pushkin Press for the digital review copy.

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This is a wonderful, magical collection of tales within one larger story of King Mansolain and the animals that seek to protect him. Complete escapism,The King of The Copper Mountains would make a fantastic read-aloud to share with a class. Children would surely be inspired to write their own stories of animal adventures with which to entertain King Mansolain.

It's hard to believe this book was written as recent (recent for some!) as the 1960s and not hundreds of years ago. It bears all the hallmarks of traditional tales but without any of the prejudices and stereotypes older tales may have presented.

The characters are sweet and delightful and there any many hidden messages that one can take from the book and its stories within.

I feel happy that I have only just discovered this book with its reissue and beautiful new cover but wish I had read this book with the wonder of a child's eye. One not to miss out on!

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Old King Mansolain lives with a hare who can often be found snuggled in his long, white beard. One day, however, the hare notices that the king is not in good health and summons Wonder Doctor to the castle. The doctor will go on a journey for Golden Speedwell, a rare but essential potion ingredient. While they wait for him to return, the Wonder Doctor prescribes one exciting story every evening before bed—stories will keep the king’s heart beating strongly. That night, the first storyteller knocks on the door, and each night after that another one arrives to tell exciting tales of adventure and myth. What long forgotten secrets will be uncovered? Will the creatures of the kingdom be able to keep the king alive? Readers young and old will be delighted by The King of the Copper Mountains from Pushkin Children’s.

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A really creative collection that weaves a really lovely narrative. I love the little illustrations as well. I wish I had been able to read it as a child.

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This book was especially nice for the younger members of our family who sometimes don't have the concentration for longer spells of reading. The shorter stories are set within the longer story so it is easy to read one each evening. We found the stories interesting but not too exciting at bedtime. Has the feel of a classic.

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I don't think that I've enjoyed a book this much for a long time. The King of the Copper Mountains is a 'lost classic' in the UK I think, at least I had never heard of it until Pushkin's new edition. The story could be best described as 'The Decameron for children, a wise old King is dying and whilst The Wonder Doctor travels far away to pick the cure he sends animals that he meets on his journey back to the Copper Castle to tell the King stories that will keep his heart beating. The stories that the animals tell are sad, heartfelt, sometimes joyous but never mawkish or saccharine. As new animals arrive the castle soon fills up with life and love again. Beautiful story for all ages and for all time.

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In a castle full of copper corridors and rooms, near the foot of the mountains, lived old King Monsolain with his sole companion, a hare, "the only creature that still looked after him" after his reign of 1000 years. But..."His Majesty's heart ticks unevenly like a crooked clock...his heart needs a speeder-up...". To keep the King's ticker ticking, the Wonder Doctor prescribed a magic potion made from the leaves of Golden Speedwell, a rare plant that grew far away. While the Wonder Doctor journeys to secure this life-saving remedy, the King's heart must continue to beat "soundly and evenly" once a day. A nightly, exciting story might stimulate King Monsolain's heart until the doctor's return. Everybody in the kingdom who knows a story, be it adventure, humor, or full of plot twists and turns, must visit the castle ASAP.

The first story to pique Monsolain's interest was revealed by a fierce looking wolf with green eyes. The wolf was then provided with food and lodging in the castle. Each night...a knock on the door...a new storyteller. The spinners of tales included a little rabbit from-the sand-dunes, a quarrelsome duck, a three headed dragon, and a love-forlorn donkey. Monsolain was entertained! All storytellers would be given appropriate sleeping quarters. "In my castle, nobody harms anybody else...". After dinner, each night, the animals sat on a bench in front of the fire. What new visitor would provide the next rousing tale? The Wonder Doctor's quest, full of pitfalls, was perilous at best. Would he make it back to the castle, with the Golden Speedwell, in time to save King Monsolain?

"The King of the Copper Mountains" by Paul Biegel is a classic treasure of Dutch Literature. The beautiful illustrations created by Sally J. Collins (the author's daughter), beautifully enhance this fantasy novel. Written for younger set, and with the use of some repetitive prose, it begs participation from the young reader. It was a delight to enter the imaginative world of Paul Biegel. Highly recommended.

Than you Pushkin Press/ Pushkin Children's Books and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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My thanks to Pushkin Press and NetGalley for a review copy of this book.

I’ve been enjoying exploring Pushkin Press' children’s titles from different parts of the world which has led me to discover several enjoyable titles, and which would have thrilled me even more had I had a chance to read them as a child.

The King of the Copper Mountains by Paul Biegel is another from this list. Originally published in Dutch in 1964, this fairy tale/fantasy story has been translated into English by the author and Gillian Hume.

In this book we meet Mansolain, the King of the Copper Mountains who lives in a castle full of copper corridors and rooms. King Mansolain has been ruling for a thousand years over the animals and dwarves. He now has a long white beard which falls to his toes and lives in his castle with his only attendant, a hare, who sleeps on his beard. One day Mansolain develops a cough, and the Wonder Doctor who is sent for finds he has an irregular heartbeat, something that will lead to his death unless a potion is brewed from the Golden Speedwell. The Wonder Doctor sets off in search of the Golden Speedwell but says the only way the King will make it till he can prepare the potion is if he is told a new story every day which will delight his heart and cause it to beat regularly for a bit. The doctor promises to send someone with a story everyday.

From then on, every evening an animal knocks at the castle door, bring with them a new story to help the King. These are either their own adventures or the stories of those they know of. From a wolf who must face a witch to a beetle who dreams of living in a beautiful flower, a horse with golden shoes and a three-headed dragon who is captured, and even a dwarf who tells of the kingdom from which he comes, the King and also us readers are treated to an assortment of stories. All who come are given room to stay in the castle and whether lion or dragon, once there, no one causes any other any harm. Alongside we also explore different rooms in the castle (including one that is full of books and stories) with the King and also follow the Wonder Doctor on his arduous journey to secure the Golden Speedwell.

This was as it sounds a very charming book that in its format reminded me of the Arabian Nights for here too, the stories help preserve someone’s life, though in this case it is the king (the hearer and not the teller). I enjoyed all of the stories that the animals tell. Not all of them are ‘happy' or light, reflecting for instance on the futility of longing for what we don’t have but failing to appreciate what is around us. My favourites would have to be the story of the Woe wolf and his encounter with the Echo witch, the squirrel's story, also that of the three-headed dragon and the one of how the King came to rule in the first place.

I also loved the atmosphere in the castle where everyone has a corner for themselves, and everyone can live in perfect security with no one causing the other any harm. Idyllic perhaps but a lovely thought, especially since it was for animals.

The book also has lovely illustrations by Sally Collins accompanying each story.

A sweet and lovely read.

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Originally published in the Netherlands in 1964, this story won the Gouden Griffel award for the best children’s book. In 1968, an English translation, including illustrations by Gilliam Hume followed. It was reprinted in 1969, 1971, 1973, 1989, 1980 and 1987, as well as other translations through the years - German, Danish, Spanish and Afrikaans. This edition, to be published in 2022, includes an introduction by his daughter, Leonie Biegel, and new illustrations by Sally J Collins.

As this story begins, King Mansolain is near the end of his thousand-year reign, so it should come as no surprise that he is tired after serving for so long, and even more so as his health seems to be deteriorating. The king ’had a beard that spread about his feet like a rug, and on it slept a hare, the only creature that still looked after him now that King Masolain was almost forgotten.’ ’His servants had died one after the other until only the hare remained. So these two lived quietly together in the copper castle until the king began to cough so badly that his beard shook and the hare grew very anxious.' The Wonder Doctor determines that what he needs is something that will make his heart speed up, and so he prescribes a story each evening, one filled with thrills to keep his heart beating until the Wonder Doctor can ’fetch some leaves of the Golden Speedwell.’

The news of the need for storytellers spreads as the doctor makes his way to fetch these leaves with their magical properties, and as each night approaches, a different storyteller appears at the castle to tell a story. The first to arrive is a wolf who begins his story.

’My grandfather was the terrible Woe-Wolf of the Bare Flank,’ the wolf said. ‘And my story is about him. Listen…’

As the Wonder Doctor travels in search of these leaves to cure the King, there are many delays, and thus many stories shared over the nights until he returns.

This would make a wonderful bedtime story to read aloud to a child, or children, one chapter a night as the author once shared these stories with his own children. Each chapter shares a little of the twists and turns of the doctor’s journey, new characters, and adventure through the story shared each night as the new story-teller arrives to share his story with the King.

Pub Date: 29 Mar 2022

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Pushkin Press / Pushkin Children’s Books (less)

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This book is absolutely adorable. This is a children's well known fantasy classic written by a dutch writer in the 60's. I took interest in it because I love to read children's books from other contries and compare it to the type of stories I heard when I was a kid.
I really took a liking to this one, it's short and cosy with cute illustrations. Would definitely buy this as a gift and would have loved to have read it when I was a kid.

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This is, quite simply, an absolutely delightful book. I would have LOVED this book as a child; even more so had it been read to me, over the course of several nights by my father [who is an exemplary storyteller]. I wish I knew children and young adults so I could find this book and put this into their hands - I think anyone who reads this [child and adult alike] will be completely swept in by the story and will be completely enchanted throughout. It has a king, talking animals who are loyal like no others and stories. Lots and lots of stories, each one a step in completing the story as a whole.

I do not want to go into what this book is about too much - this is a book that is best read with very little prior knowledge - to just go in cold. I knew nothing about this book and as the story unfolded, I found myself excited to get to each new section - "WHAT will happen next?". This is one of the best ways to experience a book. I highly recommend this book to anyone - you will not be sorry. What a glorious read.

Thank you to Paul Biegel, Sally Collins [Illustrator], Gillian Hume [Translator] and Pushkin Press/Pushkin Children's Books for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This book was a joy to read. The King of the Copper Mountains is a bit like the Arabian Nights in its format- stories within stories- and follows a King who is dying and different animals from across the kingdom come to his copper palace each night to tell him a wonderful story and keep him alive until the Wonder Doctor can find the Golden Speedwell which will save the King and restore his health.
I thought the story was charming and I can definitely see that it would be wonderful to read in stages each night to a child. I was enchanted the whole way through.

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This book is a lovely, heart-warming story of many stories, translated from a fascinating old Dutch book written to entertain young children. In order to save the King Mansolain and keep his heart ticking many animals visit and tell him short stories of the past. I won't spoil the ending, but it all comes together and makes sense at the end!

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A delightful tale in the spirit of 1000 Arabian Nights.

King Mansolain has lived 1000 years and his heart is slowing down. But The Wonder Doctor says that he has a potential cure. The trick? The Hare (the King's faithful attendant) must keep the King focused and interested until the cure can be found. A menagerie of animals arrive with tales of their own to keep the King engaged. In the end, a Dwarf arrives with a prophecy that the King will live another 1000 years... if The Wonder Doctor can make it back in time.

This story is full of the whimsy that you would expect from fairy tales. Plus all the characters you'd expect (wolves and rabbits and dragons oh my!). It was a fun, quick read with the tale-within-a-tale format. Definitely the kind of story I would come back to again in the future.

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A charming children's book with equally lovely illustrations. The emphasis on the importance of storytelling is a wonderful message for readers of all ages. I wish I had gotten to read this one as a kid! But I'm glad I got to enjoy this reprint as an adult.

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A timeless and enchanting children's fantasy Which I enjoyed as an adult…..recommend this book. Such an enjoyable read….

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After a thousand-year reign, old King Mansolain is tired and his heart is slowing down. Only stories can keep it ticking while his doctor searches for the cure, so creatures from all across the kingdom come to the castle in the copper mountains to sit on the king’s long white beard and tell him their tales.

Every night a new visitor arrives to tell a story to the king: a fearsome wolf, a lonely rabbit, a fire-breathing, three-headed dragon, and many more. Each tale is more wondrous than the last, but will they be able to keep King Mansolain’s heart beating until the cure arrives?

I never knew this book existed until I saw it come up on Netgalley and when I read the blurb I knew it was my kind of book. What I am amazed at is that I didn’t know about it until now, even though it appears to be a well known ‘classic’.

Filled with heart and warmth this book made me laugh, made me cry and genuinely touched me. It reminded me of bedtime stories read to me by my parents and reinvigorated that inner child inside of me. I couldn’t wait to see which animal would arrive next and how their story would unfold; all the while reading and hoping that the King would hear one more story and make it.

This is one I will be shelving and keeping so that maybe one day I can share it with my own kids.

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I loved the whimsy and rhythm of this story, each chapter had a set structure so you knew where it was going and how it would end - they would make Breakfast, the ailing King would wake, late into the night a visitor would arrive and a story would be told, before ending with the Wonder Doctor's continued search for the Golden Speedway.

Each story told was unique to the animals that came through the door - a sheep, a mouse, even a dragon and 10 bees - and these helped shape an entire world that lay outside of the King's doors. I did find the story started to drag half way through, but picked up brilliantly at the end.

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