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Michael Morpurgo

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Re: Michael Morpurgo

Postby Courtenay » 10 Jan 2016, 15:32

Thanks for that, Poppy! :D

I must just give another shout-out to my favourite charity bookshop (Woking & Sam Beare Hospices) in Egham High Street... I walk in there after lunch today and what do I find but a copy of Why the Whales Came!! 8) (Plus a couple of other books that will make excellent presents for family members.) That place must be good luck or something, I'm sure — nearly every time I go there I pick up some kind of wonderful bargain.

So now I'll look forward to beginning this one as soon as I can — hopefully after my shift this evening — and will post what I think of it when I've finished! Thanks again for your recommendation, Poppy.
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Re: Michael Morpurgo

Postby Courtenay » 11 Jan 2016, 01:19

Just as a quick update: I've started reading Why the Whales Came and am being drawn in already — it's getting exciting! I really want to find out what happens, but will probably have to get some sleep before I go any further. :wink:

Interestingly, it's reminding me a little of The Mystery of the Island by Isobel Knight, which I and several other forumites read last year on Robert's recommendation. That one too was set on an island (off the coast of Scotland in this case) and also featured a mysterious old man and rumours of a curse. That story wound up in a quite ordinary, non-spooky way in the end, but it remains for me to see where Why the Whales Came will go... :D (And anyone else who's read it already — NO spoilers, please, OK?)
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Re: Michael Morpurgo

Postby Poppy » 11 Jan 2016, 09:38

Glad you're enjoying Why the Whales Came, Courtenay. It was lucky that you found a copy straight away, too. Hope you continue to enjoy the book. :D
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Re: Michael Morpurgo

Postby Courtenay » 13 Jan 2016, 23:34

Just finished Why the Whales Came earlier this evening — I couldn't put it down towards the end! A lovely and quite moving book, with some unusual twists. I will have to look out for some of Michael Morpurgo's other books as well.

One episode in the book I did find made me a bit uncomfortable, though — without giving too much away for those who haven't read it and would like to, it was when Gracie's parents laid into her for lying to them about where she got the wooden cormorant, only minutes after they'd finished lying far more elaborately to the customs officers about the salvaged wood!! :shock: Talk about double standards...

It does raise the complex and difficult question of whether it's right to lie sometimes in order to protect someone or something important, which both Gracie and her parents are doing in their own way. And of course, Gracie as narrator has already taken pains to explain why all the islanders always hoodwink the authorities in order to keep salvaged goods, because that is the tradition and the only way they can be sure of survival in such a harsh environment. That whole episode also sets the scene somewhat for later events. But I was still a little shocked by the fact that Gracie's parents were so horrified and angered that she would lie to them, understandably, yet they didn't hesitate to lie bare-facedly to "the Preventative" over what was, legally speaking, a far more serious matter.

It might have worked better for me if Gracie herself had remarked privately on the huge irony of the situation, which apparently escaped her parents (I was surprised she didn't seem to notice it herself). But even with that, I loved the book and feel like it deserves a re-read already, as well as looking forward to reading others by the same author. Thanks again for the recommendation, Poppy! :D
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Re: Michael Morpurgo

Postby Courtenay » 27 Feb 2016, 15:49

I'm now reading Michael Morpurgo's other books set on the Isles of Scilly (I've no idea why they're not known as his Scilly books :P ), as a nice little lead-up to my upcoming short trip there. Finished The Wreck of the Zanzibar yesterday, in just one sitting — it's much shorter than many of his other books, more of a novella than a novel, and probably aimed at a slightly younger audience. Still a quite gripping and very satisfying little tale, though. He is certainly good at portraying the harshness of life in such a remote and isolated place (especially historically — the story is set in 1907) and how the islanders' fortunes could swing quite suddenly from good to bad, and back again, within a short time.

I'm now onto a quite different book of his — Arthur: High King of Britain, which is essentially a retelling of the main Arthurian legends. That's something Enid Blyton did too, of course (as have many other authors!), but Morpurgo has framed it slightly differently by starting with a boy from modern-day Scilly, stranded on a sandbank and in danger of drowning, who is rescued by the ancient King Arthur himself, living hidden in his hall under the sea until the time comes for him to return to Britain (as of course the legend goes). So it's Arthur himself telling his life story to the boy, and to us as the audience, in the first person. I'm very much enjoying it so far!
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Re: Michael Morpurgo

Postby Machupicchu14 » 27 Feb 2016, 16:43

I have read nearly all the collection by Michael Morpurgo. I think he is a very talented writer and I find it quite enjoyable. My favourite one is Twist of Gold.
All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love"
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Re: Michael Morpurgo

Postby Courtenay » 04 Mar 2016, 11:22

"Nearly all" Michael Morpurgo's books — that's at least a hundred! :wink: Not as prolific as Enid Blyton (so far), but I agree, a very talented writer. I wish I'd known about him when I was at school — he was writing already back in the 1980s, when I was little — but he doesn't seem to be as well known in Australia, which is a pity, as he deserves to be.

Nevertheless, I've only now realised that he was also the author of this lovely picture book that I remember we were selling some years ago at our local Environment Centre in my home town where I used to work as a volunteer:

Image

I read it at the time and thought it was a very sweet little story and a beautiful portrayal of the Australian bush and its creatures — not bad at all for a couple of British blokes! :wink: — but the author's name didn't register with me at the time.

Meanwhile, I've just finished reading Arthur: High King of Britain. A very stirring retelling for young readers (upper primary school onwards, I'd say) — extremely well done. I've got another of his books, The Sleeping Sword, that is also based on the Arthurian legends, but might give it a little rest before I get into that one! 8)
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Re: Michael Morpurgo

Postby Courtenay » 20 Mar 2016, 23:05

I'm currently reading another of Michael Morpurgo's books set on the Isles of Scilly (where I'll be visiting soon) — Listen to the Moon, one of his most recent novels and quite a long one. It's extremely good so far; I haven't got very far into it yet, but he really knows how to draw you in!
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Re: Michael Morpurgo

Postby Tony Summerfield » 20 Mar 2016, 23:25

I tried to get Michael Morpurgo as a speaker at an Enid Blyton Day. We had a bit of common ground as he taught at the same school that I taught at although he left the term before I arrived. When we spoke on the phone he happily agreed to come and speak at the EB Day, but sadly it was the year that he was the Children's Laureate and he came back to me two or three months later and told me he was just too busy.
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Re: Michael Morpurgo

Postby Courtenay » 21 Apr 2016, 12:19

I'm at last continuing with Listen to the Moon, which I started before I left for my recent Cornwall/Isles of Scilly holiday and took it with me, but was enjoying myself so much that I never made time to sit down and read novels! :lol: Glad I've resumed it now. I'm about halfway through the book and it is very well-written and intriguing — really draws you in. Mr Morpurgo is very good at pacing his works well and revealing the story little by little, not too much at once, so you want to keep on reading! As I said before, I wish I'd known about his books when I was a child — he was writing from the mid-1980s onwards, just as I was starting to read children's novels. But I'm glad I'm catching up now. 8)

I'm impressed, too, at what Tony says in his earlier post — that Michael Morpurgo happily agreed to be a speaker at an Enid Blyton Day some years ago but was too busy at that time. Pity it never came about, but it's lovely to know he obviously appreciates Enid Blyton too. I would have loved to hear his thoughts on her and on writing for children in general.
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Re: Michael Morpurgo

Postby Courtenay » 23 Apr 2016, 08:28

Finished Listen to the Moon yesterday. It really was a wonderful book — one to keep and re-read, for sure. Like a lot of Michael Morpurgo's books, it's set during WWI; without giving too much of the plot away, it's about a family living on the Isles of Scilly who discover a young girl stranded on one of the uninhabited islands, unable to speak or to remember who she is and how she came to be there. Gradually, the pieces of her story come together for her, her new family and the reader... It's beautifully written and moving, quite wrenching in a few places, actually; there's one particular scene that had me with tears in my eyes (and I don't normally cry so easily when reading). Highly recommended to anyone here who enjoys historical fiction for young readers.
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Re: Michael Morpurgo

Postby Anita Bensoussane » 08 Aug 2017, 21:05

My mum told me over the phone that she was playing around with the radio the other day when she heard a story being introduced on Radio 2 and carried on listening to find out what it was. It was Michael Morpurgo's Alone on a Wide Wide Sea, about a boy called Arthur who was transported to Australia just after the Second World War. My mum found it so interesting that she listened to the whole of part 1 and made a point of tuning in again for part 2. There are two more episodes to come.

I've now listened to the first two parts myself and enjoyed them. Some of the characters are voiced by Jason Donovan and Toby Jones, and there's a brief introduction by Michael Morpurgo. It's an engaging story telling of tough times, hard physical work, friendship and growing up, and it's interwoven with folk-style songs which suit the mood of the narrative.

I must admit I've never read the book, though my daughter read it when she was 11 or 12.

Here's a link in case anyone would like to listen to the dramatisation, though episodes 3 and 4 haven't yet been broadcast:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08zqr1 ... des/player
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