I'm looking for a children's novel, aimed at perhaps 7–10 year olds, that I read in the mid '90s; between 1993 and 2000. I must have read the story in Dutch. I believe the story was originally in English, but it may have been written in Dutch or another non-English language originally.

The setting is pre-modern. It is set in a kingdom where so many candles burn that it is never dark. The king is afraid in the dark and ordered the candles to be lit. His subjects have never seen the night sky, never seen the stars or even the moon. They are not aware of the difference between day and night. When the king realises it is a bit dark underneath his throne, he orders a candle to be lit there. If I recall correctly, with bad consequences for the throne — it catches fire.

Eventually, some events (perhaps it was the throne catching fire) lead to this to change. They extinguish the candles and observe the night sky. The residents marvel and are not afraid at all and wonder why they did not do this before.

I suspect it may be rather obscure story, commissioned by some astronomical society or so for a special event on celebrating the night sky. That's just a wild guess, though.

I probably borrowed it from the local library in Diemen at some point during the 1990s, but I'm not sure about that either. I'm quite sure the story was published in a standalone book and not part of a larger collection — at least not in the form I read it.

I've posted another version of this question on a goodreads forum.

  • I've asked my local (Dutch) library, but no luck.
    – SQB
    Sep 18, 2018 at 17:34


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