Our very first event at Mainstreet back in 2008 was with the wonderful Michael Morpurgo, so it is with very great pleasure that we welcome him back during the week of our 10th birthday on 20th June 2018.
Firmly established as a national treasure, Michael will be talking about his two most recent books, Flamingo Boy and In the Mouth of the Wolf. Both have a wartime setting, and both are deeply personal, inspired by Michael’s own family. In the Mouth of the Wolf is a tale of espionage, loss and bravery inspired by the true story of Michael’s uncles; while Flamingo Boy tells of an autistic boy living in the Camargue, when war threatens to destroy everything he loves, he finds friendship and kindness, even among enemy soldiers.
As part of our 10th birthday celebrations we have appointed Michael as Mainstreet Makar, and look forward to presenting him with his Makar ‘rosette’ at this event on the 20th June.
MORE ABOUT THE BOOKS:
In the Mouth of the Wolf…
For the first time, Michael turns to the true story of his two uncles in the Second World War. Francis and Pieter are brothers. As shadow of one war lingers, and the rumbles of another approach, the brothers argue. Francis is a fierce pacifist, while Pieter signs up to fight. What happens next will change the course of Francis’s life forever . . . and throw him into the mouth of the wolf. In the Mouth of the Wolf begins at Francis’s 90th birthday as he reflects on his eventful life, and the part he played in the Second World War. Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful storytelling and Barroux’s stunning artwork combine to tell the true story of Michael’s uncles against the epic backdrop of World War Two.
Speaking of the inspiration for Flamingo Boy, Michael Mopurgo said: “I have a grandson who is autistic. I had never realised until he became part of our family what this really meant, or what it was. I had not thought of writing a book about him, partly because the subject had been so well written about before and partly because my understanding of autism was too shallow. I simply didn’t have the confidence to get started on a story. But then a visit to the Camargue in the South of France, a wild and wonderful national park where pink flamingos fly, gave me the story of an autistic boy growing up in a farmhouse amongst these creatures. I decided to set the story during the Second World War when France was an occupied country. Where children and people who were different were under threat whether they were gypsies or Jews or people who did not seem to be like other people, autistic children amongst them. It’s the story of love and friendship, of how people from different culture and backgrounds can come together, especially when they are under threat.”
SIR MICHAEL MORPURGO BIOG
Michael Morpurgo, began writing stories in the early ’70’s, in response to the children in his class at the primary school where he taught in Kent. One of the UK’s best-loved authors and storytellers, Michael was appointed Children’s Laureate in 2003, a post he helped to set up with Ted Hughes in 1999. He was awarded an OBE in 2007 and a Knighthood in the New Year’s Honours in 2018 for services to literature and charity. He has written over 130 books, including The Butterfly Lion, Kensuke’s Kingdom, Why the Whales Came, The Mozart Question, Shadow, and War Horse, which was adapted for a hugely successful stage production by the National Theatre and then, in 2011, for a film directed by Steven Spielberg. His book, Private Peaceful was adapted for the stage by Simon Reade and a film, directed by Pat O’Connor. He has won numerous awards including those voted for by children themselves, the Blue Peter Book Award and the Children’s Book Award. His latest books to be published in Spring 2018 are both set during the second World War: Flamingo Boy, a novel set in the Camargue region of France, and In the Mouth of the Wolf, the true story of the lives of Michael Morpurgo’s uncles.
A son and grandson of actors, Michael has acting in his blood and enjoys collaborating and performing live adaptations of his books at festivals, concerts and theatres.
Michael’s books have been translated into many languages including Chinese, Bulgarian and Hungarian, Hebrew and Japanese. He travels all over the UK and abroad talking to people of all ages at literary festivals, telling his stories and encouraging them to tell theirs.
With his wife Clare, he set up the charity Farms for City Children, which offers children and teachers from inner-city primary schools the chance to live and work in the countryside for a week on one of the charity’s three farms in Devon, Gloucestershire and Wales. Over 100,000 children have visited the three farms run by the charity since it began in 1976. Teachers frequently comment that a child can learn more in a week on the farm than a year in the classroom. HRH The Princess Royal is Patron of the charity. The couple were awarded joint MBE’s for their work in education.