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.”

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