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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Goldsmith and the Master Thief (The)
by Tonke Dragt
Age Range: 9-11
Laurenzo and Jiacomo are identical twins and no one can tell them apart, so much so that they are able to take turns going to school to confuse their teachers. When tragedy strikes and they become orphaned and destitute, they know they must make their own way in the world. Although identical in appearance Laurenzo and Jiacomo are very different in temperament: Laurenzo is hardworking and wants to become a goldsmith, while his fearless brother Jiacomo wants excitement and travel which leads him to meet Jannos and train to be a master thief. This is the start of a series of incredible escapades that will test them to their limits.
Written as a series of twelve self-contained tales they follow the brothers as they must use all their talents, wiles and wisdom to survive when they encounter terrible danger, solve cunning riddles, become prisoners in a castle, sail across the ocean, fall in and out of love, stay at an enchanted inn, help save a priceless pearl, and even become kings for a while.
Originally published in 1961 this classic Dutch novel by Tonke Dragt, author of the multimillion bestselling Letters For the King uses a formulaic fairy tale style without the magic and also a touch of ‘comedy of errors’ appeal reminiscent of Shakespeare’s comedies.
The Goldmith and Master Thief is a book that is easy to dip into and a joy to read. Each story is a complete adventure set in the wonderful fictional medieval world that Dragt captures so well, expertly translated by Laura Watkinson. The charming black and white line drawings by the author herself are also a perfect accompaniment to the story.