Saturday, 31 January 2009

Michael Morpurgo

The existence of Michael Morpurgo quite passed me by until a few months ago. How did I miss that he got to be the Children's Laureate? How come he got to write over 100 books without my noticing him? I realise that I was actually out of the country when he was doing his laureate thing. So maybe I have a little excuse. And, I have been teaching children who may be a little too young to read his work. There, I have justified my ignorance to my satisfaction.

There I was in a year 6 classroom noticing that several children had books written by him on their desks. I felt a little ignorant that I had not even heard of the man, let alone read anything written by him.

They assured me he was a very good author. I take a year 6 class each Wednesday and this term my assignment for the literacy lessons was to cover narrative texts. The national curriculum suggest the book 'Kensuke's Kingdom' by Michael Morpurgo. So I was very interested to read it.

Well, I was overjoyed to find that he is a very fine author. Better than the other contemporary authors for that age group, in my opinion. Of course I have only read one book, but the way he writes, his plot and turn of phrase was wonderful. In this book he left clues throughout the book that were revealed later on if the reader had not worked them out. As with all excellent literature it needs to be read more than once to get the full enjoyment from it, although there was plenty of enjoyment the first time around. It is just that on the second reading you can savour the writing.

I cannot resist quoting the best sentence I have ever read. You will find it on page 89 of the paperback.

"I looked on awestruck at the power of the vast waves rolling in from the open sea, curling, tumbling, and exploding as they broke on to the beach, as if they were trying to batter the island into pieces and then suck us all out to sea."

Isn't that just a glorious sentence? Can you see it and hear it too?

Well, as I knew nothing about this man, and had to teach using his book I thought it was a good idea to Google him. He has his own website (of course), and I find he and his wife started and run the charity 'Farms for City Children'. I had heard of this charity years ago and so was interested to come across it again with the founder now a famous man.