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Michael Morpurgo, began writing stories in the early '70's, in response to the children in his class at the primary school where he taught in Kent. One of the UK’s best-loved authors and storytellers, Michael was appointed Children’s Laureate in 2003, a post he helped to set up with Ted Hughes in 1999. He was awarded an OBE in 2007 and a Knighthood in the New Year’s Honours in 2018 for services to literature and charity. He has written over 150 books, including The Butterfly Lion, Kensuke’s Kingdom, Why the Whales Came, The Mozart Question, Shadow, and War Horse, which was adapted for a hugely successful stage production by the National Theatre and then, in 2011, for a film directed by Steven Spielberg. The most recent film adaptation of his books is Waiting for Anya directed by Ben Cookson. He has won numerous awards including those voted for by children themselves, the Blue Peter Book Award and the Children’s Book Award. His latest book is Boy Giant published by Harper Collins Children’s Books and Owl or Pussycat illustrated by Polly Dunbar and published by David Fickling Books.
A son and grandson of actors, Michael has acting in his blood and enjoys collaborating and performing live adaptations of his books at festivals, concerts and theatres.
Michael's books have been translated into many languages including Chinese, Bulgarian and Hungarian, Hebrew and Japanese. He travels all over the UK and abroad talking to people of all ages at literary festivals, telling his stories and encouraging them to tell theirs.
With his wife Clare, he set up the charity Farms for City Children, which offers children and teachers from inner-city primary schools the chance to live and work in the countryside for a week on one of the charity’s three farms in Devon, Gloucestershire and Wales. Over 100,000 children have visited the three farms run by the charity since it began in 1976. Teachers frequently comment that a child can learn more in a week on the farm than a year in the classroom.
For more information about the work of Farms for City Children, please visit www.farmsforcitychildren.org
Michael Morpurgo lives in Devon with his wife Clare.
Anthony Horowitz on Michael Morpurgo:
'Michael Morpurgo is the most solid, classical of children's authors. He sits outside the series-driven blockbusters so beloved of publishers nowadays: he hasn't created a Harry Potter or an Alex Rider – and I admire him for resisting that. We are opposite sides of the same coin and, although his work has never influenced mine, I admire the eloquent, considered voice of his best books. He has an unerring moral compass – his schoolteacher past has never quite left him – and books such as War Horse and The Butterfly Lion have a strong social concience and an honesty that makes them universal.' (The Guardian)
In November 2016 Michael Morpurgo won the J M Barrie Award for his contribution to children’s literature. This award is given every year by Action for Children’s Arts to a “children’s arts practitioner” whose lifetime’s work has delighted children and will stand the test of time.
David Wood, chair of Action for Children’s Arts, said Morpurgo is “one of our greatest storytellers”.
“Michael Morpurgo has thrilled and delighted huge numbers of young readers since becoming a children’s author in the early 1970s," Wood said. "Action for Children’s Arts is delighted to recognise Michael’s outstanding contribution by presenting him with the J M Barrie Award 2016. His work will undoubtedly, like Peter Pan, stand the test of time, making him a truly worthy recipient of this award."
Morpurgo added: “Storymakers and storytellers like Barrie, and like all the previous winners of this award, have given us the hope and faith children need, we need, to keep flying, have sustained us through dark and troubled times, have banished doubt. To touch the lives of children, to witness their listening and reading silence, is reward enough in itself. This is simply the icing on the cake.”
Take a peek at Michael's 10 Rules for Writing.
You can also read about his life in War Child to War Horse, a collaborative biography with Maggie Fergusson.
This is a story of a life-changing friendship, a lost puffin, and a lonely artist. It's the story of an entire lifetime, and how one event can change a life forever. From masterful storyteller, Michael Morpurgo, and world-class illustrator, Benji Davies, comes a magical new story. This truly beautiful tale will enchant readers of all ages.
September 2020 Book of the Month | This sparkling adventure melds life as a young refugee with literary lore. The warm magic of Omar’s Lilliputian sojourn will captivate young readers, while his experience as a refugee will surely inspire compassion and empathy - deeply vital for our times. Known as Tiny in his rural village, Omar’s life is overturned when war breaks out and an air strike kills his dad and many friends. When his sister goes missing, Omar and his mum move to a refugee camp. But it’s not long before Mum decides it would be safer to join a group of sea-bound refugees. They walk for a year and reach the coast, but Omar’s mum only has enough money to pay for one passage. So, armed only with the address of his Uncle Said in England, Omar boards the overcrowded boat. When it sinks, he wakes to find himself on an island populated by tiny people. The warm welcome of the Lilliputians serves as a powerful allegory. They “spoke with their hearts” and make Omar feel like he belongs as he learns their language, their history, their culture. But worried his mum might be waiting for him in England, Omar sets off again, with hope in his heart and special companions aboard his new boat. Shot-through with a powerful message about offering help and hope to those in need, this is classic Morpurgo, with wonderfully warm illustrations by Michael Foreman. Read more about Michael Morpurgo, our Guest Editor for September 2020, here.
November 2020 Book of the Month | Michael Morpurgo is the consummate storyteller and this little tale, perfectly illustrated by Polly Dunbar, reveals how even as a child he had storytelling at his fingertips. The narrative is based on his own memories of childhood and of performing in the school’s Christmas production of Edward Lear’s poem The Owl and the Pussycat. Michael loved the poem and was chosen to play the Owl. Excitement rises as the performance approaches especially as Belinda, his first love, is chosen to play the Pussycat. Adults will appreciate the book’s delicate sense of memories of past life, while children will love it for the humour, the drama and the sheer joy that comes from calamity turned to triumph. It is quite beautifully told, and Polly Dunbar’s illustrations exactly capture all that readers will find in the story. If it inspires you to read Lear’s poem, as well it might, there are picture book versions gorgeously illustrated by Ian Beck and Charlotte Voake, while Julia Donaldson has written a glorious sequel also illustrated by Voake. Read more about Michael Morpurgo, our Guest Editor for September 2020, here.
A gripping historical adventure by a much-loved and award winning author. Soon to be a major motion picture, starring Stranger Things' Noah Schnapp. It is World War II and Jo stumbles on a dangerous secret: Jewish children are being smuggled away from the Nazis, close to his mountain village in Spain. Now, German soldiers have been stationed at the border. Jo must get word to his friends that the children are trapped. The slightest mistake could cost them their lives.
A moving historical story inspired by the Foundling Museum, written by acclaimed children's author Michael Morpurgo and illustrated by Michael Foreman. From award-winning master storyteller Michael Morpurgo, author of the acclaimed War Horse, comes a moving historical story inspired by the Foundling Museum.
Flamingo Boy is vintage Michael Morpurgo, just the kind of story he tells so brilliantly. Eighteen-year old Vincent is ‘following the bend in the road’, letting life take him where it will, and finds himself in the wild and beautiful landscape of the Camargue. There he meets Kezia and Renzo and, as they nurse him through a fever, hears their life stories. Vincent hangs on every word and readers will too as Kezia describes the events that brought her and Renzo together, and the threats and dangers their families faced during the war. It’s a story of love, loss, renewal and reconciliation, vividly told and touching on important issues that matter to every one of us. Inspired by his own grandson, who is autistic, Renzo, the boy with a special connection to nature and animals, is one of Morpurgo’s most striking and vital characters.
Michael Morpurgo and Helen Stephens' classic Christmas story, now in a brand-new larger gift format - the perfect Christmas gift! High in the mountains of Switzerland, lives a terrible dragon. In the village below, the people do everything they can to keep the dragon away. But one day, a little girl called Mimi finds a baby dragon. The little creature is lost and frightened but how did he get there and what if his mother comes looking for him? Mimi must be extremely brave if she is going to help the little dragon find his way home . . . A wonderful story about friendship, courage and adventure, perfect for sharing with the whole family.
Interest Age 7-12 Reading Age 8+ | When Christine finds an abandoned fox club she cares for it herself. But can she keep it secret from her Dad? This is a wonderfully touching and beautifully crafted story about growing up and learning about real life from one of our best-loved authors.
A new illustrated story celebrating the poppy's history. Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman have teamed up with the Royal British Legion to tell an original story that explains the meaning behind the poppy.In Flanders' fields, young Martens knows his family's story, for it is as precious as the faded poem hanging in their home. From a poor girl comforting a grieving soldier, to an unexpected meeting of strangers, to a father's tragic death many decades after treaties were signed, war has shaped Martens's family in profound ways - it is their history as much as any nation's. They remember. They grieve. They honour the past. This book also includes a full-colour, illustrated afterword that explains the history that inspired the story.
Cinderella, Rumpelstilstskin, Sleeping Beauty, Jack and the Beanstalk: these stories are in our DNA, says Michael Morpurgo in his introduction to this gorgeous new collection. They are told by some of our best authors for children and each story is illustrated in full colour with pictures that match its mood (Ian Beck’s illustrations for The Pied Piper of Hamelin, retold by Adele Geras, are particularly rich). Morpurgo himself has chosen to tell the story of Jack and Beanstalk and, typically, it’s a first person narrative, Jack addressing the reader directly, keeping us breathlessly attentive from the opening line to the happy every after. An excellent collection to share with children.
Francis and Pieter are brothers. As shadow of one war lingers, and the rumbles of another approach, the brothers argue. Francis is a fierce pacifist, while Pieter signs up to fight. What happens next will change the course of Francis's life forever . . . and throw him into the mouth of the wolf.
March 2018 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: classic Morpurgo story of war, nature, bravery and love | | Flamingo Boy is vintage Michael Morpurgo, just the kind of story he tells so brilliantly. Eighteen-year old Vincent is ‘following the bend in the road’, letting life take him where it will, and finds himself in the wild and beautiful landscape of the Camargue. There he meets Kezia and Renzo and, as they nurse him through a fever, hears their life stories. Vincent hangs on every word and readers will too as Kezia describes the events that brought her and Renzo together, and the threats and dangers their families faced during the war. It’s a story of love, loss, renewal and reconciliation, vividly told and touching on important issues that matter to every one of us. Inspired by his own grandson, who is autistic, Renzo, the boy with a special connection to nature and animals, is one of Morpurgo’s most striking and vital characters.