Kensuke’s Kingdom: Facts About the Book by Michael Morpurgo

Here are some facts about Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo.

  • Kensuke’s Kingdom was first published by Egmont in 1999.
  • The original edition of the book is 161 pages long.
  • The main character in the book, a boy called Michael, is shipwrecked on an island in the Pacific Ocean. The book focuses on his life on the island and the relationships he makes with its inhabitants.
  • The front cover of the early edition has an illustration inspired by the work of Japanese painter Hokusai Katsushika. The painter is mentioned in the story, too.
  • Michael Morpurgo wrote the book after on of his fans wrote to him asking him to write a story about a boy stuck on a desert island.

Kensuke's Kingdom

  • In order to learn more about yachts and round the world voyages, Michael Morpurgo took some sailing lessons before he started writing the book.
  • Kensuke, the Japanese soldier who Michael meets on the island, is named after one of Micheal’s fans who he met at  a book signing event. It’s pronounced Kensky.
  • Michael Morpurgo thought he had finished writing Kensuke’s Kingdom, but after reading it again, he decided it need something else. He added the letter to Michael as the final page.
  • Like Private Peaceful, War Horse and several other of Michael Morpurgo’s novels, Kensuke’s Kingdom has been turned into a play.

  • Michael got the name for the main character’s dog, Stellas Artois, from a boy who came to stay on his farm in Devon. The boy’s dog, an Alsatian, was called Stellas Artois.
  • As a child Michael Morpurgo enjoyed reading Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and although this book is very different to Kensuke’s Kingdom, they do share some common ground.

  • When asked by  a reader what he would do if he were stranded on a desert island, Michael Morpurgo said he would make himself “as comfortable as I could. Learn how to fish really well, and play on the water-slide I’d take with me!! To keep myself occupied and cheery.”

How many books has Michael Morpurgo written?

Michael Morpurgo has written more than 100 books, a mixture of novels, picture books, chapter books and collections of short stories.

Below is a list of his novels.

Michael Morpurgo’s Children’s Novels

  1. Long Way Home
  2. Friend or Foe
  3. Nine Lives of Montezuma
  4. Miss Wirtles Revenge
  5. Twist of Gold
  6. Little Foxes
  7. Why the Whales Came
  8. Tom’s Sausage Lion
  9. King of the Cloud Forests
  10. Mossop’s Last Chance
  11. My Friend Walter
  12. Mr Nobody’s Eyes
  13. Waiting for Anya
  14. The Sandman and the Turtles
  15. The War of Jenkin’s Ear
  16. The Dancing Bear
  17. Arthur, High King of Britain
  18. The Wreck of the Zanzibar
  19. The Ghost of Grania O’Malley
  20. The Butterfly Lion
  21. Robin of Sherwood
  22. Guliver’s Travels
  23. Excalibur
  24. Camelot: The Last Days
  25. Red Eyes at Night
  26. Escape from Shangri-La
  27. Wartman
  28. Joan of Arc
  29. Kensuke’s Kingdom
  30. Black Queen
  31. Dear Olly
  32. Billy the Kid
  33. Out of the Ashes
  34. Toro! Toro!
  35. The Last Wolf
  36. The Sleeping Sword
  37. Mister Skip
  38. Cool!
  39. Private Peaceful
  40. Cool as a Cucumber
  41. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  42. The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips
  43. I Believe in Unicorns
  44. Alone on a Wide Wide Sea
  45. Beowulf
  46. Born to Run
  47. The Mozart Question
  48. Kaspar: Prince of Cats
  49. Running Wild
  50. An Elephant in the Garden
  51. Not Bad for a Bad Lad
  52. Shadow
  53. Little Manfred
  54. Outlaw: The Story of Robin Hood
  55. Sparrow: The True Story of Joan of Arc
  56. Mr Skip
  57. A Medal for Leroy
  58. Wherever My Wellies Take Me
  59. Pinocchio
  60. Listen to the Moon

Series By Michael Morpurgo

War Horse

  1. War Horse
  2. Farm Boy

Mudpuddle Farm

  1. Cock-A-Doodle-Do
  2. Pigs Might Fly!
  3. Alien Invasion
  4. Six Animal Adventures

Check out his website for more information, or learn about how Michael Morpurgo writes his books.

Private Peaceful: Facts About the Book by Michael Morpurgo

Here are some facts about Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo.

  • Private Peaceful was published by Harper Collins in 2003.
  • It is a story about a soldier, Thomas ‘Tommo’ Peaceful. He looks back on his life from the World War 1 trenches. Each chapter moves the story forwards in time, until the reader has caught up to Tommo in the trenches. From this point on, the story is written in the present tense.

  • The book examines the horrors of war and the unfair treatment of soldiers who were executed by firing squad for desertion or cowardice.
  • Private Peaceful was turned into a film in October 2012. It was directed by Pat O’Connor and starred George Mackay (as Tommo), Richard Griffiths (as The Colnel) and Maxine Peake (as Hazel).
  • The book was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, won the Red House Children’s Book Award, won the Blue Peter Book Award and was shortlisted for the Blue Peter Best Book of the Last 10 Years Award.
  • During World War 1, nearly 300 British Army soldiers were executed by firing squad for desertion and cowardice. Many of the men were suffering from shell shock, and in 2006 they were granted pardons.
  • Many Devon locations feature in Private Peaceful, and Michael Morpurgo used the book Devon in 1914 by James Ravilious to help him visualise how it would have looked in 1914.
  • In 2009 Michael Morpurgo travelled to Ypres in Belgium to better understand World War 1. In a war cemetery, five miles outside of Ypres, he found a grave bearing the name Private Peaceful.
  • Private Peaceful isn’t the only Michael Morpurgo book to focus on the subject of war. Shadow, A Medal for Leroy, War Horse and Why the Whales Came also feature conflict as a theme. In the clip below, Michael Morpuro talks about war as a theme in his novels.

  • In 2011, Michael Morpurgo said that Private Peaceful was his favourite of all the books he’s written.

Buy Private Peaceful from Amazon

War Horse: Facts About Michael Morpurgo’s World War 1 Novel

Here are some facts about War Horse by Michael Morpurgo.

  • War Horse was first published in 1982 by Kaye & Ward.
  • The novel is written from the point of view of Joey, a horse bought by the Army to serve in World War 1. It describes Joey’s experiences, and details how Albert, Joey’s former owner, tries to bring him home safely from France.

  • Michael Morpurgo says three men inspired the story idea that eventually became War Horse. Wilfred Ellis, a World War 1 veteran, told Michael Morpurgo what is was like to work with horses in the Devon Yeomanry. Captain Budgett, another World War 1 vet, told Michael all about WW1 cavalry, and Albert Weeks, from Iddesleigh, talked to Michael about how the Army had come through the village buying horses for the war effort.
  • He was also inspired by a harrowing World War 1 painting showing WW1 horses charging into barbed wire as they approached the German lines.

War Horse

  • War Horse was adapted for the stage by Nick Stafford. The play was first staged at the Olivier Theatre in 2007. It used life-size puppets to portray the horses.
  • War Horse has also been turned into a movie. The screenplay was written by Richard Curtis and Lee Hall, and it was directed by Steven Spielberg. It was released on 25th December 2011.
  • The book was runner-up for the 1982 Whitbread Book Award.
  • It is estimated that nearly one million British horses died during World War 1, and perhaps as many as 10 million horses lost their lives during the entire conflict.
  • In 2008, War Horse was adapted for the radio. The broadcast featured the voices of Timothy Spall, Bob Hoskins and Brenda Blethyn.

Buy War Horse from Amazon.

Michael Morpurgo: How does he write his books?

Here are some facts about Michael Morpurgo’s writing method.

  • Michael Morpurgo believes that ideas for stories are everywhere. He tries to live a full and varied life, and he’s always looking out for the next interesting idea.
  • Many of his stories start with a picture or image.

  • He is a big believer in writing things down so that you won’t forget them. He jots down story ideas, descriptions, fragments of dialogue and his feelings about a place or situation. Some of these notes have made their way into his books.
  • He spends a lot of time thinking about his stories before he starts writing them. He uses this time to fuse together disparate ideas into a story framework.
  • He uses his wife, Clare, as a sounding board, and he talks through his story idea with her before he puts pen to paper.
  • He writes the first drafts of his stories by hand in a school exercise book. He is usually on his bed when he does this, propped up with pillows.
  • Although Michael Morpurgo has a rough idea of how his stories will end before he starts to write them, he doesn’t plot them in detail. He likes to allow the story to evolve and grow as he is writing it.
  • When it comes to editing his first draft, Michael is guided by how the story sounds when it’s read aloud.
  • Many of Michael’s stories are written in the first person. Some even feature a main character named Michael.

Writing Advice and Tips from Michael Morpurgo

  • Don’t produce a strict plan or plot structure before you start writing. This will prevent a story growing organically when you are writing it. You must have some idea of where the story is heading, though.
  • Writing won’t always be enjoyable. Sometimes you need to stick at it when the ideas aren’t flowing. The blank page will always be a challenge.
  • Don’t worry about spelling and grammar when you’re writing the first draft. Don’t agonise over your choice of words. Just sketch out the story, mistakes and all, as if you were telling it to your friends.
  • If you want to be a writer, you should also be a reader. Read everything you can get your hands on – novels, non-fiction, short stories, poetry.
  • Write for your book because you are passionate about the story you are telling. Don’t worry about how successful the book will be after it’s finished.
  • Write every day, even if it’s only a few lines. The more you write, the better you will get. In the end your writing will come as easily as speech. You’ll be able to speak your story onto the page.

What next? Discover some more Michael Morpurgo facts.

15 Michael Morpurgo Facts

Here are 15 facts about Michael Morpurgo, the famous English children’s author.

  • Michael Morpurgo was born on 5th October 1943 in St Albans, Hertfordshire.
  • He has written over 100 books. Private Peaceful was his 100th title.

  • After graduating from university, Michael became a primary school teacher in Kent.
  • He writes all of his books in exercise books. He doesn’t work on a desk, instead he sits on his bed, propped up with pillows.
  • His favourite animals are elephants.
  • Some of his favourite authors include: Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling and Ted Hughes.
  • He dislikes the process of editing and rewriting.
  • Michael Morpurgo enjoys watching TV. He particularly likes documentaries.
  • Michael set up the Farms for City Children project with his wife, Clare. It gives deprived urban children a chance to work on a farm and enjoy the benefits of being outdoors in the countryside.
  • Michael was given an OBE in 2006.
  • In 2003 he became the Children’s Laureate, becoming the third person to fulfill the role.
  • He has three children: Sebastian, Horatio and Rosalind, and several grandchildren.
  • He likes listening to Mozart, but he can only write in a silent room.
  • Michael loved French at school and he went on to study this subject at university.
  • He likes eating prawns.

 

Books by Michael Morpurgo

Here is a list of some of Michael’s most well-known books.

What next? Discover some more information about Michael Morpurgo’s writing methods.