Engaging reads for children, from Books go Walkabout

Tag: michael morpurgo

The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story & Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

The Jungle Book - cover image and web link

The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story here

Palazzo Editions are delighted to publish new and sensitively abridged and adapted gift editions of The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story and Alice in Wonderland, bringing Robert Ingpen’s stunning illustrations and these timeless storied to a younger audience.

Juliet Stanley has created an amazing style of text in abridging the original story, with losing none of the magic and depth and bringing a beautiful way of engaging for younger readers.

In Jungle Book:Mowgli’s Story, by Rudyard Kipling the story speaks volumes of a child being lost and found by the wolf pack, who runs wild in the jungle, yet brings talents of human hands to support the other animals. All the animal characters are there and include, Bagheera the black panther, Baloo the bear and of course Shere Khan the tiger who was out to kill Mowgli, as soon as he had the chance.

A quote from Michael Morpurgo, “ I still marvel at the inventiveness of Rudyard Kipling… the characters come to life at the hand of Ingpen- just as my mother’s voice brought them to life when she read them to me.”

In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, the story of Alice, a child who was at the edge of growing up who fell down a rabbit hole and found a world turned inside out with characters like The Mad Hatter, The White Rabbit and the Queen of Hearts.

The book is great to read and in many ways enables the story to be understood by younger readers in this edition.


A quote from Philip Pullman, ” Lewis Carroll, we could say, created the whole of children’s literature with these wonderful stories. Placing a child at the centre of a narrative that was entirely free of instruction, entirely devoted to delight, was a stroke of genius. The Alice’s are the greatest nonsense ever written, and far greater, in my view than most sense.”

Alice - cover image and web link

Buy this book on-line here…

Award winning artist Robert Ingpen’s wonderful illustrations have illuminated this classic children’s titles and other books include Peter Pan and Wind in the Willows and read a recent interview with Robert Ingpen 


We love these books and find it hard to put them down, either for the beautiful illustrations or for the chance to read again about the adventures of characters with stories beyond our wildest dreams.

Sue Martin


Arthur, High King of Britain

Arthur, High King of Britain, Michael MOrpurgo & illustrated by MIchael Foreman

Buy this beautiful book here…

Arthur, High King of Britain by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Michael Foreman is in a new hardback edition recently published by Palazzo.

With the best of Morpurgo’s adventure style and with the captivating illustrations from Michael Foreman, bound together in this beautiful hardback book, it is a joy to read and provides a real sense of the  man in the story.

Palazzo, are a young and  independent, UK publishers creating  beautifully designed and illustrated books for the UK and international markets. Their books are amazing and stylish, bringing back a huge amount of joy to reading, especially for children.

The adventure starts with a young boy setting out for  the day, walking between tides, from Bryher to Samson, in the Scilly Isles. He knew he could do it, but when the fog circled round he was lost and not in time to make the return journey before the high tide would trap him. There he met Arthur Pendragon, High King of Britain.

They talked as the boy recovers by the fire and Arthur tells him that he also was once a wanderer and a dreamer and as he retells the stories he talks about his first meeting with Merlin.

The chapters include Excalibur, Lancelot and Guinevere and then to the Last Days of Camelot. The whole story of Arthur unfolds with heroes, knights, chivalry, magic, evil and betrayal. 

A great read and a book for keeps, text full of intrigue and description, illustrations in water-colour washes and fine detail. Good for a present, for sharing in a classroom on history and PSHE topics, and for libraries and homes.

Dip in to a chapter at a time or start at the beginning, you will feel the magic of the book drawing you in.

Sue Martin

Books Go Walkabout

Books Go Walkabout

Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories
at Seven Stories

Part 2: This article was written by Sue Martin, FRSA. Sue is our Partnership Bookseller and literacy and Early Years education specialist. Sue leads on our literacy projects at home and overseas.

Discover Seven Stories on-line here…

Michael Morpurgo, A Lifetime in Stories; an exhibition curated by Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, Newcastle upon Tyne from the 2nd July 2016 to June 2017…

This is a unique opportunity to visit this remarkable collection of notebooks, manuscripts and correspondence that have been part of Michael Morpurgo’s story writing, life and dreams. The exhibition combines much of his life and ethos and is woven into an iconic display, on the fourth floor of Seven Stories.

Take your time…this exhibition requires that you stop and dream a while, reminisce or ponder on the way Michael can find stories in places, wherever he is; stories from the past, stories of animals, children and people, from war time and in present day. He is a great story-teller and story writer and the author of over 150 books for children, Children’s Laureate and a voice for reason and peace.

This blog will take you on our journey through the exhibition and point you in some directions, we hope it will mean you also will have chance to make this journey one day over the next year. It’s worth it!

Michael Morpurgo was born in 1943 and went to boarding school at seven, and eventually into military officer training at Sandhurst and then he became a teacher. He found the military life difficult and as a teacher he wanted to help children to be creative, give them opportunities, take them out into the world and fire their imaginations, tell stories. There was a clash between curriculum driven tasks and this approach. Later, with his wife Clare, they moved to Devon, where they developed Farms for City Children.

He became friends with Ted Hughes and learnt that, as he said, “I have a story of my own to tell and a voice of my own with which to tell it.

Interesting quotes from the videos at the exhibition in the Dreamtime corner are;
“Live an interesting life. Fill your head with this world, of which you are part, care about it deeply, make up your mind to write about events, memories, conversations and something will emerge.”

“Lose yourself in the story, get into it and go for it; know the people, the place, let the dreams in your head reach the pen on your page, tell it as if to your best friend, as a secret.”

There are many orange notebooks in the exhibition, school notebooks filled with Michael’s writing, thoughts, changes, crossings out and revision. He works and receives inspiration wherever he is, but his favourite place is his converted shepherds hut.

There are too many books to mention them all, but my favourites are; War Horse, which only sold a few thousand copies until it was made into a stage production and is now his most famous book. Farm Boy, the sequel to Joey the war horse, Why the Wales Came, set on Samson island in The Scillies. Along with The Wreck of the Zanzibar, Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea, The Dancing Bear and Waiting for Anya.


Seven Stories – nestling on the river bank…

There is a curiosity about the books, the man and his talents at finding the story and retelling in a wonderful style, which will mean further reading and an excuse to add more of his titles to our bookshelves.

A final quote…
“I know it, lying under the sun on a summer’s night. I know it watching buzzards floating over the valley where I live. It is a learnt belonging from children who stop to gaze, to breath in the world about them, to feel part of it.”

Michael Morpurgo, A Lifetime in Stories at Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, Newcastle upon Tyne. A digitised archive is available on www.sevenstories.org.uk/collection

Sue Martin

Books Go Walkabout and Dolphin Booksellers


Books and authors taken around the world…

Michael Morpurgo
at Seven Stories

Newcastle - Shining City image of the TyneNewcastle, shining city in the North…

Part 1: This article was first published on the pages of conversationsEAST, another project of SmithMartin LLP in the East of England. Part of a series of articles celebrating culture, technology and the arts in The North.

Continuing our theme of ‘Northern Energy’, we were in Newcastle upon Tyne this week and, on Friday afternoon, took time to visit Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books. They have an important exhibition and research project into the donated archive of the writer Michael Morpurgo. Below is what we thought.

”Michael Morpurgo Exhibition 2 July 2016 – Sunday 2 July 2017, Newcastle UK. A Lifetime in Stories.
Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books introduces an exclusive exhibition drawn directly from Michael Morpurgo’s extensive archive donated to Seven Stories in 2015”.  

Seven Stories summer 2016 events Pic-m

View, print or download this Guide here…pdf

Through one of our our sister projects, Books go Walkabout, an international delivery system to get authors, illustrators and poets, and their books,  to corners of the world previously unreached, we have an abiding interest in children’s literature as you would expect.

The Seven Stories Morpurgo exhibition is certainly about a fantastic canon of work dedicated to the young imagination. However, the research team have extracted illustrative and delightful insights into, and evidence of, the writing process, using the archive generously donated to the Centre by Michael Morpurgo in 2015.

What the display and featured narrative does offer, in the broadest terms, is an insight into the creative process, the research and writing of a book, much of which in this Seven Stories gallery has taken place before the arrival and dominance of the word processor.

Not only an exhibition in praise of the work of Michael Morpurgo, but an illustration in itself of what can be achieved with a simple notebook and a pen or pencil. The imagination does not need an elecrical socket and plug to thrive apparently!

Some key exhibition elements:

Michael Morpurgo was born in 1943, and his early life was beset by sadness and conflicting tensions. It was interesting to see the detail of Michael’s school, home life and reaction to his early experiences in the British Army. This thematic thread of war and militarism can be traced through the exhibition, as in Michael’s life. His mother’s grief at the loss of her brother in the Second World War was an equally powerful emotional driver for the writing.

In 1962 Michael met his future wife Clare, and it was the summons home by his mother, with the pretence of an imaginary illness, that offered the opportunity for them to get married, against the prevailing condition that cadets of the Royal Military College Sandhurst must be single. A signal turning point in a creative life which solidified his pacifism, well evidenced and illustrated by this exhibition.

Wombat Goes Walkabout Pic-m

Own your own Wombat here, from Amazon.co.uk

His first short book, published in 1974, was It Never Rained, an interconnected narrative about five children.  By 1999 Mopurgo was ready to publish Wombat Goes Walkabout, with wonderful illustrations by Christian Birmingham. A great story about digging holes and how a wombat can save the day.

1982 saw the release of War Horse, perhaps Mopurgo’s most famous creation. The exhibition offers the visitor a display of many of the notebooks, first drafts, corrections and re-typed double spaced manuscripts that drove the creation of this seminal work.

This series of displays offers, we thought, a powerful illustration of how writing is both a physical and an intellectually layered process, but which requires a gritty determination to see the story through to the final end – publication. It is this revisiting and deterministic approach to his craft of writing that makes a Mopurgo novel so dramatic and engaging we suspect.

War Horse cover image

You can buy this book from Amazon.co.uk here…

To an archivist this is vital in determining the writers emotional condition on any particular creative day. As his pen moves rapidly across the notebook page, Michael has left a marker, a measure of intensity, for later researchers seeking to determine his emotional or creative state. Something a plastic keyboard, no matter how powerful the micro-processor it is connected to, could ever offer the interested reader in years to come.

Looking at the Morpurgo ‘war’ material, we pondered on what must be a pivotal issue for the contemporary archivist or researcher. With ready access to technology, publishing processes and cloud storage – how will future archivists and seekers of process engage with material that is electronic and resting, potentially, in a thousand different formats, storage facilities and locations around the globe.

Interestingly, MIT Technology Review has just published an article on the use of computing and data mining techniques to show that there are, it contests, only six basic ’emotional arcs’ in storytelling. These are…

…a steady, ongoing rise in emotional valence, as in a rags-to-riches story such as Alice’s Adventures Underground by Lewis Carroll. A steady ongoing fall in emotional valence, as in a tragedy such as Romeo and Juliet. A fall then a rise, such as the man-in-a-hole story, discussed by Vonnegut. A rise then a fall, such as the Greek myth of Icarus. Rise-fall-rise, such as Cinderella. Fall-rise-fall, such as Oedipus.

Source: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601848/data-mining-reveals-the-six-basic-emotional-arcs-of-storytelling/  Article – Data Mining Reveals the Six Basic Emotional Arcs of Storytelling  Accessed: 09.07.2016

We are intense users of the notebook and pen ourselves, in our ordinary workaday lives, but have to recognise that research and analysis would now be immeasurably diminished without technology. We wondered, travelling through the Michael Morpurgo exhibition, an historical audit trail of the creative mind, what other contemporary children’s and young adult writers take on ‘techno’ is today?

Perhaps this is a Seven Stories seminar series in the making? Pen or Processor, the creative methodology in contemporary children’s literature. We would buy a ticket! (Ed.)

A visual treat:

Towards the end of the exhibition content is a section dedicated to Michael Morpurgo’s artistic collaborators, the artists who have contributed to the written work.

It offers the visitor a fascinating insight into how the imagination is populated by the story, how the psyche is suggested a character and landscape by Michael Morpurgo’s writing. It is also, within the context of this article, a soaring endorsement of the power and durability of putting a hand to paper. Surely no machine can replace the creative evocation of story by the artists below?

The work on display includes artwork from Quentin Blake, Gary Blythe, Peter Bailey, Christian Brimingham and Tony Kerins amongst others. We particularly warmed to the diversity of images in the exhibition that depicted the sea. Whether Kensuke’s Kingdom or When the Wales Came, the original cover art to be seen provokes an imaginative dream of action, wind, water and a tale to be told.

We loved it.

(A list of artists on show…Gary Blythe, Quentin Blake, Loretta Schauer, Gemma O’Callaghan, Michael Foreman, Sarah Young, Sam Usher, Peter Bailey, Faye Hanson,Francois Place,   Emma Chichester-Clark, Christian  Birmingham and Tony Kerins.)

It was wonderful to see this collection of individual artistic work within the context of theSeven Stories Michael Morpurgo exhibition. But each artist has a separate body of work which is lively, imagination capturing and enchanting in equal measure. We hope  you can use the links above to explore this on-line collection ‘gallery of galleries’ too.

Getting to Seven Stories NE1 2PQ :

If you leave the impressive Newcastle Central Station and turn right down towards Quayside, you can turn left along Quayside and walk, past the Pitcher and Piano until you come to St. Ann’s Steps on the left. Ascend them. At the top, look back down the river to the bridges receding into the distance. Turn and  cross the road and right down to Cut Bank on the left, following the river left along for a couple of hundred yards and Seven Stories will apppear on your right.

The journey there, if the sun is shining, can be as uplifting as your visit to The National Centre for Children’s Books. This is a fascinating insight into the work of our national story teller. Seven Stories offers a whole rainbow of experience around ‘the children’s book’, whether a holidaying family looking to stimulate young imaginations, a visit to the cafe and bookshop, or a serious academic look at the sweep of children’s literature.

Editor Notes:

‘Seven Stories was able to support the acquisition from Michael Morpurgo through support from Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘Collecting Cultures’ programme, which has been awarded to Seven Stories in recognition of the museum’s national role in telling a comprehensive story of modern British children’s literature’.

Source: Seven Stories web site. Accessed 09.07.2016 See http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/collection/collection-highlights/michael-morpurgo

The exhibition is delivered and developed through a new Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Seven Stories and Newcastle University’s School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics.

The KTP is possibly the first of its kind between a university English department and an external organisation, and is being funded by InnovateUK and the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

You can read Dr. Jessica Sage’s blog for more insights into her exploration of the archive here.

Header image: The Shining Tyne 2016: Tim Smith MA, FRSA


The Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture 2013

Image 1Kevin Crossley-Holland,celebrated author and President of the School Library Association, delivered an enchanting and beautifully crafted lecture:

‘Footprints on the Grass: Speaking of Gardens and Children’s Books’ to a full house at Homerton College Cambridge on 6th September.

The theme of gardens was delicately drawn into ways in which children use imagination within places where there is space, beauty and security.

Kevin talked about John the Peddar from Norfolk, is journey to London following a dream about a pot of gold, only to turn back and return home where the pot was in his back garden.

‘ The greatest treasure in the world is on our doorstep, but you may have to go away and come back to find it.

There were many references to Philippa’s writing, and especially her most famous book, Tom’s Midnight Garden.

Philippa Pearce died in 2006, but respect and affection for her writing is as strong as ever. In her memory, a series of lectures is now underway, each intended to celebrate excellence in writing for children.

Image 2

The inaugural Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture was held on 11th September 2008, at Homerton College, Cambridge, and focused on Philippa Pearce’s own writing and contribution to children’s literature. Subsequent lectures have ranged more widely and speakers have included Michael Rosen, Michael Morpurgo, Philip Pullman and Malorie Blackman.

The 2014 Lecture will be given by Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Kevin’s speech was filmed and will be available on the Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture website soon. http://www.pearcelecture.com

Ibby International Congress 2012

book5Crossing Boundaries:Translations and Migrations

33rd year of the Ibby World Congress 23-26th August.

Imperial College, London

A wonderful exploration of how books and stories for children and young people can cross boundaries and migrate across different countries and cultures.

Globalisation, cultural exchange,dual language texts are amongst the discussions.

People from all over the world interested in children’s books with space and time to be creative and talk about bringing books to children across a global village.

Anthony Browne, UK Children’s Laureate, will be there, along with Julia Donaldson and Michael Morpurgo.Aidan Chambers, Shaun Tan, Beverley Naidoo and Candy Gourlay plus many more…

We hope to share some of the Books go Walkabout project and just spend some time talking to others from different countries. Sharing stories, finding ways to bring books and stories to children.

What could be better?

Sue Martin

Books Go Walkabout Dolphin BooksellersIbby 33

Image from 33rd Ibby International Congress

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War Horse

war horse


War Horse, that amazing book written by Michael Morpurgo, and dramatised in the West End at the New London Theatre will shortly be available at the movies.


Steven Spielberg’s latest film production, War Horse, is opening at cinemas on January 13th. It has already been acclaimed for its powerful and thought provoking message.

With a great line up of actors, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Emily Watson and Peter Mullen, and over 200 horses, trained by Bobby Lovgren the film shows the story of the relationship between a boy and a horse.

But yet, there is so much more…. more than a million horses were sent to the front during the first World War,only 62,000 returned. The horse, Joey,is taken through so many different places and into such horrendous situations. It is a tale of endurance, courage and the pitiful way that war treats humans and animals alike.

There are many newspaper editorials, but try The Observer or The Guardian for some extra information.

A remarkable film, an outstanding theatre production and an even better story, written and developed by Michael Morpurgo.

See you at the movies

Sue Martin

You can buy the book through Dolphin Booksellers– the best in children’s books always on line

Norway- a land of fjords and islands but ….



Grendel the monster stalks the land

After struggling to make any sense of the awful and indescribable events in Oslo and Utoya I happened to listen to a radio programme with Michael Morpurgo.

Legends and folktales, he said, “ are warning tales, to alarm and terrify us, and to remind us of our own frailty.
The tales of Beowulf and Grendel in Norwegian folklore are bold and scary, Grendel preys on people, bringing death and destruction. Beowulf confronts Grendel and kills him but this is not the end of it. Evil is not so easily vanquished.

‘Whatever the evil one is called, – witch,devil, troll or dragon, we have to be watchful and wary.”

The last in the Harry Potter series, The Deathly Hallows part 2 shows the horrors that confronting evil can bring.

Books for children have a way of dealing with this through story, adventure, spine chilling experiences. Not all children’s books are there for the happy ending, it is the way that children can understand the emotions that are most difficult. We put those emotions in the cupboard at our own expense.

As Michael Morpurgo says, “ The monsters are out there, and they are not like Shrek, they are like Grendel.”






Sue Martin
Dolphin Booksellers the best in children’s books always on line

The Book Store

beach hutAugust and at last a space in the diary for clearing the store of books. Well that is in the plan.

There are approximately 8,000+ books. What is it about books from the past, those children’s novels that just have to be re-read? From The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner and The Butterfly Lion by Michael Morpurgo to 100+ways to make paper aeroplanes.

booksWay back in the winter we completely changed a school library into a community library. It’s a fantastic space, with comfy chairs, computers, smart shelving units and books, of course.

Some of the sorted books will be going back into school, but the majority will be taken to places, mainly overseas, where books are in short supply. We are lucky that people we work with have many contacts with groups and can get the books direct to the children who need them.

So, I’ll just read one or two more, then get back to packing into boxes.

Dolphin BookBox will give you information about our Community Library service, plus other things that we can supply too!

Visit the home page of Dolphin Booksellers for latest information.

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