It really is a coincidence that this next book in my blog is also an old book. The King of the Copper Mountains was first published in 1965. It is famous and is even listed in 1001 Children's books you must read before you grow up. It also won Children's Book of the Year in Holland.
Wikipedia likens this book to the Arabian nights and I agree. The king is dying. The wise Wonder Doctor must travel to a distant place to gather a special plant that will restore the King to good health. In the meantime "The kings heart should beat soundly and evenly once a day."
To achieve this the Wonder Doctor sends a succession of wonderful storytellers to the King. "I only hope there will be enough stories for all the days I'll be away." And so, under the careful watch of his faithful friend the hare, one by one each evening a different storyteller arrives - a ferocious Wolf, a lovesick Donkey, the fire-breathing, three headed Dragon, a Horse with golden shoes, a Rabbit of the dunes, the Sheep, ten bumble bees, two Mice, a Swallow and a Dwarf.
If you are looking for a set of short stories to read to a class The King of the Copper Mountains would be perfect. The old King is wise and generous, his castle is fabulous and Biegel weaves all these different stories together in a way that made me gasp out loud at the end. I put this old cover here too - I like it. Do you?