Tag Archives: Michael Morpurgo

Boy Giant: Son of Gulliver – Michael Morpurgo

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Harper Collins

September 2019

ISBN: 9780008347925

ISBN 10: 0008347921

Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

List Price: 19.99 AUD

And the master has done it again! Morpurgo has drawn on Jonathon Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels as his inspiration for this latest exploration of human nature, political unrest and compassion.

Omar has fled war-torn Afghanistan with his mother in a race for survival. A long and dangerous journey sees them at last reach the sea and a boat for England but a storm at sea wreaks havoc and Omar finds himself washed up on a small island – and even stranger, surrounded by hundreds of tiny people.

It is Lilliput and the inhabitants believe that Omar is the descendant of Gulliver their revered saviour who visited them three hundred years earlier.  Omar’s sojourn on the island helps him to recover from terror, to develop compassion and wisdom, discover skills and strengths and eventually prepares him for a risky journey to England to try and find what remains of his family.

With much skill Morpurgo draws parallels between a three hundred year old text considered seditious and subversive in its time with its criticism of power and politics and the present day where our humanity struggles against those who are determined to destroy and oppress.

MM is one of my most favourite authors and never fails to astonish me. Who else could suspend my disbelief to the point where a tiny pair of Lilliputians helping to narrate a tale would seem so normal?

This is another fine tale for readers from around ten years upwards and in fact would make a splendid read-aloud or class novel for upper primary/lower secondary to engender discussions and commentary.

Of course, highly recommended – loved it!

 

Flights of Fancy: stories, pictures and inspiration from ten Children’s Laureates 😉

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Walker Books, April 2019, 80 pp., $27.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781403687858

Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Rosen, Anthony Browne, Julia Donaldson, Malorie Blackman, Chris Riddell, Lauren Child.

Naturally we are not the only ones to celebrate our creators of extraordinary children’s books and this compilation is a real treat. The above authors, who have all been such familiar names for us all as we share amazing stories for children, have all been UK laureates. Their contributions to the world of children’s books are completely inspiring and now they share their thoughts, ideas and processes with children, in the hope of encouraging the next generation of outstanding authors and illustrators.

Each noteworthy person offers a personal insight into the creative process with sketches, tips, suggestions and techniques.

This is a beautiful volume filled with colour and life and wonderful insights. If you are looking to provide your young readers with some encouragement to pursue their own creative pursuits this will be a super addition to your ‘arsenal’.

Of course, there is also the opportunity to further explore the  works of each contributor – so many of whom are considered ‘legend’.

I fear my own bookshelves are going to need some expansion as I think this is another one that I cannot let go. I’m perfectly sure you will feel the same when you pick it up.

Highly recommended for any lover of children’s literature.

Toto: the Dog-gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz – Michael Morpurgo. Illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark

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Harper Collins

          ISBN: 9780008134594

          ISBN 10: 0008134596

         Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

         On Sale: 21/08/2017

         List Price: 19.99 AUD

When I had my sixth birthday my older sister gave me an illustrated copy of The Wizard of Oz and I immediately fell in love with the story. This poor book (which I still have) was re-read many times and is now looking a little shabby but is still treasured deeply.

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How absolutely marvelous to have one of our greatest modern storytellers bring a fresh new take on this now ‘antique’ tale – first published in 1900 by L. Frank Baum. MM has conceived a wondrous version which re-tells the story from the point of view of Toto, Dorothy’s courageous little dog.

Now an old Papa dog, Toto delights in telling the young pups stories and of course the favourite is the story of his and Dorothy’s adventures in the Land of Oz. Most of the pups get bored with the endless reminiscences but not the youngest who laps them up especially the Oz story no matter how many times he hears them.

Toto’s voice is completely as one might imagine from a little Kansas country dog and this re-tell keeps closely to the original story which is especially satisfying.  MM also keeps closely to the language style of the original while still making it accessible to modern readers.

Colourful and contemporary styled illustrations give this book a really attractive and vibrant look which will thoroughly engage young readers for what might be their first introduction to the Oz stories.  They will definitely love the ‘emerald’ foiled highlights on the cover!

Much as I love my original even after so many years this was simply a joy to read – as indeed are all Morpurgo books!

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards!

The Giant’s Necklace – Michael Morpurgo. Illustrated by Briony May Smith

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Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781406357127
Imprint: WALKER HARDBACK
Australian RRP: $19.99
New Zealand RRP: $22.99

Coming hot on the heels of my review of Michael’s ‘Such Stuff’ is this absolutely beautiful short story/novella which is both poignant and thrilling.  And of course, now I also want to know the ‘prompt’ for this particular story.

A family is on their annual summer holiday on the Cornish coast in the same cottage in which they always stay. As usual the secluded little beach is all theirs and for the entire stay, Cherry the youngest in the family has been vigilantly collecting perfect pink cowrie shells and stringing them into a ‘giant’s’ necklace much to the amusement of her four older brothers.

On the last day of the holiday Cherry is short of her target by only about a hundred shells and knows that she can achieve her goal.  Knowing the child is safe on the beach the family go back to pack up ready for the next morning’s departure leaving Cherry with her fixation.

But when the weather turns bad and the sea turns worse Cherry is cut off from her usual path home. At first she is frightened but realises she should be able to climb the cliff to safety. A strange light from a cave attracts her attention midway and she finds herself in an old copper mine where two old-fashioned Cornishmen are working away. They sense her distress, warm her and comfort her and eventually the younger man leads her to the surface and she is able to find her way home.

No spoilers here – to find out the twist in the tail/tale you will have to read it for yourself.

Beautifully presented in a small hardback with stunning illustrations and delicious glossy pages, this is a treat for the senses.

Highly recommended for readers from around nine years up.

Such Stuff: A Story-maker’s Inspiration – Michael Morpurgo. Illustrated by Michael Foreman

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Walker Books

October 2016

ISBN 9781406364576

RRP: $27.99

What a master storyteller Michael Morpurgo is! His body of work and his reputation are both completely awe-inspiring. This unparalleled weaver of dreams who was the UK Children’s Laureate from 2003-2005, with over 100 books to his credit, (many translated into other languages) and numerous awards has provided those of us who are such admirers of this work with an unprecedented insight into his writing.

This is truly a joint production. When Michael’s brother suggested that so many people always ask about how the stories come to life it would be a good idea to write about it, Michael took up the idea with enthusiasm.  It was natural to involve his long-time illustrator and collaborator, Michael Foreman, who has often provided him with the germ of an idea for a story. And along with his wife, Clare, began the task of collating anecdotes, excerpts and background information for the brilliant format of this book.

The ‘story’ of each book begin with Michael’s recount of the first idea – sometimes a real life incident, a media story, an historical fact or a yarn from someone met in a pub. He discusses how the pieces of each story then come together, to be woven into one narrative. At times, many such singular ideas all combined into the one book. Then follows an excerpt from the book in question, these selected by Clare and lastly, a few pages of information that provide back story to the particular theme of each – all fascinating and interesting aspects of the relevant title.

As an indulgence I must share this from the chapter on “I Believe in Unicorns”:

…We know the best parents and the best teachers do this, change lives. So often forgotten are the best librarians, dedicated people who go quietly about their business of trying to encourage reading. For many children who are not read to at home, or who have been frightened of books, or bored by them, at school, a good library and good librarian can change the life of a child, by judicious and sensitive recommendations, by arranging book groups, by readings, by inviting authors into to talk to children….

Thank you Michael both for that positive affirmation of our profession but also for the joy you bring to our lives with your superb writing. Visit Michael’s website here.

I highly recommend this to you for students who are interested in the process of creative writing, for lovers of Michael’s work and for your own professional reading. This one stays firmly on my own shelf!