Readersforum's Blog

January 12, 2012

Morpurgo titles to be given away at McDonald’s

Filed under: Retail — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:41 am

 |By Caroline Horn

Restaurant chain McDonald’s is to give away nine million copies of Michael Morpurgo’s Mudpuddle Farm books in its McDonald’s Happy Meals for children, as part of a promotion with HarperCollins Children’s Books.

The initiative will run from today, 11th January, to Tuesday 7th February. Customers ordering Happy Meals will be offered a free book from a selection including six titles from Mudpuddle Farm range including Mossop’s Last Chance, Pigs Might Fly! and Martians at Mudpuddle Farm, all aimed at children aged six to eight years.

Each book comes with a finger puppet and books will also be available to purchase at McDonald’s restaurants without the need to buy a Happy Meal. The initiative is being publically backed by TV presenter Jeff Brazier.

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December 7, 2011

War Horse painting turns Morpurgo’s ‘black lie’ into a white one

Joey, the equine star of Michael Morpurgo's War Horse, has been retrospectively painted by the artist Ali Bannister. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

To please fans, a painting of Joey, Michael Morpurgo’s equine hero, has finally been hung in Iddesleigh village hall.

By Steven Morris

For years, fans of the Michael Morpurgo story War Horse have made the pilgrimage to the village hall where – according to the author’s note at the start of his book – a “small dusty painting” of his equine hero hung.

They came away disappointed. The hall at Iddesleigh in Devon, not far from the author’s home, did exist but there was no picture – until now.

On Wednesdaya painting of Joey the horse, commissioned by Morpurgo to turn what he called a “black lie” into a “little white one”, was finally hung almost 30 years after the book was published.

Morpurgo said: “The author’s note is an invention – it’s how I wanted the story to start. For 30 years people have taken it literally.

“For 25 of those years just a few people turned up at the village hall to see the painting – which didn’t exist.”

But since the National Theatre’s production became a huge hit, the trickle increased. Once Steven Spielberg’s film version of the story is released later this year in the US and in the UK soon after, a flood of new enthusiasts are expected to arrive in the village.

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October 27, 2011

War Horse, the exhibition – a parable of our senseless, violent times

Handspring's astounding puppets from the play War Horse will be on show at the National Army Museum exhibition. Photograph: National Army Museum/CLY

Michael Morpurgo’s classic is the basis of a National Army Museum exhibition tracing the history of the real war horses.

By Maev Kennedy

Of more than 120 books Michael Morpurgo has written, War Horse is not his favourite – though he concedes his epitaph will read: “Michael Morpurgo wrote Steven Spielberg’s War Horse.”

His story of the horse commandeered from a Devon farm and shipped to the great war, followed by the boy who loved him, has become a phenomenon, dwarfing the rest of his works: a bestselling children’s book now bought by adults, a box office smash hit play for the National Theatre in London and on Broadway, the Spielberg movie due for release within few months, and now an exhibition at the National Army Museum in London.

“I’m very fond of the book, and it is my wife’s favourite – she really loves horses, and she likes the fact that its origins lie in Devon, in the place where we live. But I probably like Private Peaceful best [also now being filmed] and I love the ones which really set children’s imagination soaring like Kensuke’s Kingdom. But there will be people who think I never wrote anything in my life except War Horse.”

The book was hardly an overnight success: it was published in 1982, did not sell particularly well. Morpurgo spent years trying to turn it into a script before concluding that a story which begins in rolling Devon fields and moves on to tank battles in the Somme, was unfilmable and still less stageable.

“I am delighted but quite surprised at how it has now taken off, and why that should be now is an interesting question. I’m afraid it’s the times we are living in. People are seeing the bodies of young soldiers coming home again.

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October 24, 2011

Michael Morpurgo: ‘Our problem is that we feel superior to animals’

Bestselling children’s author Michael Morpurgo speaks about Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of War Horse at the inaugural Telegraph WordUp! Festival in Dulwich.

BySameer Rahim

When the BBC presenter Clare Balding introduced Michael Morpurgo at the inaugural The Telegraph WordUp! Festival she did not stint on praise: not only was he one of our great children’s authors, but “one of the greatest tellers of stories for any age”. It is part of the etiquette of such events to make the star author feel special – but sitting among a crowd of 300 enraptured children (and not a few adults) it felt like it could be true.

Morpurgo was talking about the latest incarnation of War Horse, a book first published in 1982 that was turned into a hit play at the National Theatre and is now a film directed by Steven Spielberg (released this January). The American director and his wife keep horses, said Morpurgo, which is one of the reasons they were interested in the story of a Devon boy who travels to the Western Front to try to find his beloved horse Joey. “It was a moment of history,” said Morpurgo, “when it was animal against steel and bullet and tank”. After the trailer was screened the person sitting with me whispered: “It’s going to be a real tear-jerker, isn’t it?”

“Our problem is that we feel superior to animals,” he continued. He spoke movingly about how children have a natural connection with animals that adults brought up to fear them lack. In the course of his admirable Farms for City Children programme that he runs with his wife Clare, Morpurgo has seen young people boldly take eggs from hens and instinctively bond with horses.

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October 9, 2011

War Horse: why has it been such a hit?

War Horse at the National Theatre Photograph: Graeme Robertson

After four years, the adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s book is still going strong, and providing the National Theatre with vital income. But why do people love it so much?

By Michael Billington

In racing parlance, War Horse is a “stayer”. It’s been running in London for four years, is still enjoying a profitable outing on the notoriously tricky Broadway course and, according to the National Theatre, is earning enough (£3m a year in the West End alone) to make up for the company’s shortfall in subsidy. Just as income from Les Mis helped to keep the RSC afloat in the 1980s, so War Horse enables the NT to balance its books in the years of George Osborne’s austerity.

But what is it that makes War Horse a popular success? First and foremost, it’s the spectacle. Audiences still gasp at the ingenuity of the Handspring Puppet Company who give the horses, through their bendy, bamboo frames, an articulated, individual life. It’s a truism but there comes a point when we forget the horses are manually operated and imagine them, in the words of the Chorus from Henry V, “printing their proud hooves in the receiving earth”. But equally remarkable is the moment when a simulated first-world-war tank, signalling the cavalry’s demise, rolls ominously towards the audience.

Technical skill alone, however, doesn’t explain War Horse’s wow-factor.

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June 12, 2011

Michael Morpurgo’s Shadow wins children’s book prize

Filed under: Awards — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 7:18 am

Michael Morpurgo is a triple winner of the Red House book award

Michael Morpurgo’s novel Shadow has won this year’s Red House children’s book award, which is voted for by young readers.

It is a third win for Morpurgo, who becomes the only author to do so in the award’s 31-year history.

Shadow tells the story of boy who is befriended by an army sniffer dog in Afghanistan.

“Shadow was a difficult book to write because I was writing about a contemporary conflict,” Murpurgo said.

He was presented with the award at a ceremony in Birmingham on Saturday.

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January 21, 2011

War Horse the musical helps make Telegraph Hay Festival extra special

An orchestral performance of War Horse will be one of the highlights at this year’s Telegraph Hay Festival, part of a line-up that includes one Hollywood star, four Nobel Prize winners and the leading lights of the arts world.

Actors work life-size puppets in the London production of War Horse. A musical version of Michael Morpurgo's story will be staged at this years Telegraph Hay Festival Photo: ALASTAIR MUIR

The literary festival, which runs from May 25 to June 5 in Powys, Wales, promises to be the most eclectic yet.

Michael Morpurgo’s work will be a musical version of the First World War drama that has delighted theatre audiences and is being turned into a film by Steven Spielberg….read more

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