Children's Laureate 2003-5
The award-winning children's writer Michael Morpurgo was born in 1943 in St Albans, Hertfordshire.
He worked as a teacher for ten years before leaving to set up 'Farms for City Children' with his wife Clare. (They were both awarded the MBE for services to youth in 1999.)
They have three farms in Devon, Wales and Gloucestershire, which are open to inner city school children.
Michael Morpurgo is the author of many books for children, including The Wreck of the Zanzibar, which won the Whitbread Children's Book Award (1995); The Butterfly Lion, which won the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize (Gold Award, 1996); Kensuke's Kingdom, which won the Children's Book Award (2000) and Private Peaceful, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Children's Book Award (2004) and the Carnegie Medal (2004).
He is also a three times winner of the Prix Sorcière (France) for King of the Cloud Forests (1993), Wombat Goes Walkabout (1999) and Kensuke's Kingdom (2001) and has twice won the Red House Children's Book Award for Kensuke's Kingdom (2000) and Private Peaceful (2004).
Five of his books have been made into films and My Friend Walter (1988) and Out of the Ashes (2001) were both adapted for television.
Michael Morpurgo also writes his own screenplays and libretti for opera.
In 2003 Michael Morpurgo became the third Children's Laureate, a scheme he helped to establish with the late Poet Laureate Ted Hughes to reward a lifetime contribution to children's literature and highlight the importance of the role of children's books.
War Horse was ‘discovered’ by National Theatre associate director Tom Morris during Michael Morpurgo’s laureateship. Now the biggest-selling production ever at the New London Theatre, the book is also to be transformed into a production on Broadway and a film by Steven Spielberg.
Michael's time as Children's Laureate
As Children's Laureate, Michael was keen to assert that 'literature comes before literacy' and encourage all children ' ... to discover and rediscover the secret pleasure that is reading, and to begin to find their voice in their own writing'. During his time in the role, he toured extensively: 'I wanted to remind people of all ages of the power of stories', he says.
After Jim helps save a beached dolphin, 'Smiler' returns whenever called to take Jim for a ride on his back out to sea.
This is a beautifully written tale of an exceptional friendship which survives beyond the boundaries of culture and language.
Set during World War I, Private Peaceful charts eight hours in the life of Tommo, a young soldier at the Front.
Steven Spielberg enjoyed this story so much he has turned it into his latest film. Joey is a young farm horse, sold to the army at the beginning of the First World War. Through his eyes the reader experiences the devastation of the Western Front, his capture by the Germans and his entrapment in No Man's Land. This moving book is beautifully written by a former Children's Laureate.