25th April 16
The King Alfred School was delighted to welcome Michael Morpurgo, author of over 100 books including War Horse and former Children’s Laureate, to Lower School on Monday 18 April. Michael spoke to all of our Lower School classes, plus visitors from Year 7 in Upper School.
In this funny and animated talk, Michael discussed where he finds inspiration, what it’s like to write a book, and how he created some of his best loved characters. He revealed how his own life and encounters with interesting people and touching world events have helped him develop stories, from the tales of yachting adventures on the high seas that inspired Kensuke’s Kingdom to the commemorative medal from the sinking of the Lusitania found tucked away in a drawer that was the starting point of Listen to the Moon.
KAS students were enchanted by Michael, and were hanging on his every word throughout the talk. David Weale Head of Lower School said “Our children and teachers were mesmerised by Michael Morpurgo. He has a wonderful sense of humour and he entertained us all with his stories and how he comes up with his ideas. He was wonderful with the children and gained many more new fans! It was a privilege for us to spend time with him.”
When the floor was opened for questions, countless hands flew into the air. Students asked excellent questions, demonstrating both how well they knew Michael’s books and how attentively they listened to his presentation. You can read a few examples of student questions and responses below.
Michael encourages all children to discover the secret pleasure that is reading and to begin to find their voice in their own writing. “Stories are for everyone,” he said.
KAS Lower School writers are already off to a fine start. Year 5 students composed an excellent report about Michael Morpurgo’s visit, which you will find below.
Many thanks to our student reporters for their great writing about what was a very special day at The King Alfred School.
Michael Morpurgo Visits The King Alfred School
By Artie, Cosmo, Esme, Eva and Michael in Class 5B
On Monday this week, Michael Morpurgo came to The King Alfred School. Michael Morpurgo is a children’s author and former Children’s Laureate who has written more than a hundred books. He came at the request of Gaby, former student at KAS and a mother of two current pupils. His purpose was to raise funds for his charitable project Farms for City Children which he founded forty years ago with his wife Claire.
There are three farms in Devon, Gloucestershire and Wales, where city children can stay for a week with their teachers to get involved in many farming activities including bee keeping, milking goats, collecting eggs, grooming horses, feeding and caring for a wide variety of livestock, making apple juice, cooking, bird-watching and rural crafts.
Michael Morpurgo talked to us about his ideas for writing. He tries to avoid any topic other authors have used, such as pirates or spies, and seeks out ideas related to true events around which he can spin a story. He told us how he came to think of the theme for Listen to the Moon. He met a man in a pub who told him he had just lost his job and had travelled the world. Talking to people and sharing experiences gives him ‘real’ and authentic ideas, which have actually happened to people.
Another central theme came from a medallion Michael’s wife Claire found in a sock drawer when she was recovering from chicken pox. It had a picture of a ship under attack from bombs on one side and a line of starving people in a food line on the other. These images gave him the idea for the story.
Michael told us he writes all his stories by hand. He dislikes the trappings of fame and is much more interested in making a difference in people’s lives, especially through his farm projects. He isn’t showy or boastful and when he talked to us, we were full of questions and listened carefully to the answers. He made some children want to write stories, too, but most of all, Michael Morpurgo made us want to read his books – all one hundred!
A Word from Cathy, Lower School Librarian
“The children were spellbound listening to the Master Story Teller – Michael Morpurgo. He pulled the children into his stories explaining where he finds his inspiration just giving them a little bit of the story… leaving them wanting more. He did not speak down to his audience when he explained the serious nature of the content of some of his war stories and why he feels compelled to tackle such serious issues. He made us laugh and cry and there is no doubt that his visit will continue to inspire many of our children to pick up and enjoy reading books by Michael Morpurgo for many years to come.”
An Excellent Question for Michael Morpurgo from Student Gabriel, Age 8
“I know that you get most of your ideas from other people’s stories and lives. So I wondered how you get the perfect amount of detail. Harry Potter books have too much detail and they get boring. Simple books don’t have enough detail and they also get boring. But your books have the perfect amount of detail to keep readers interested in the story.
You get very good ideas from other children. As you literally said, you saw a child in Venice in pajamas, staring for ages at a guitar player, and that gave you the idea for The Mozart Question. I am looking forward to reading Wreck of the Zanzibar and Toro! Toro! as well as Kensuke’s Kingdom. You told us you hate drinks parties and then ended up talking for longer than your wife wanted to stay, in fact for four hours, to a man about his adventures sailing round the world. That helped you to get kids onto island in Kensuke’s Kingdom.
I suggest children and grownups alike should read your books.”
Lower School Student Reflections
“It was very interesting how he showed us the way he got a small idea, turned it into a huge idea and then a book.” – Hugo, Age 9
“I thought that Michael Morpurgo really cared about people and he really hates war. He was really funny as well as serious. He must work so hard on his books. The book I have liked the most is Kensuke’s Kingdom. – Nate, Age 9
“I loved all of Michael Morpurgo’s talk, his ideas and his memories were truly beautiful and helped him to write the books I am reading and that I love.” – Eva, Age 10