Review Blog

Feb 02 2017

Such stuff: a story-maker's inspiration by Michael Morpurgo

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Ill. by Michael Foreman. Walker Books, 2016. ISBN 9781406364576
(Age: 10+) Recommended. Themes: Writing; Inspiration; The craft of story-writing; Authors. Michael Morpurgo is a much loved author for young readers. He has managed to craft stories that connect with young readers and yet never speak down to them. He often combines real life stories involving children and animals and well-known historical scenarios, with the added ingredient of his fertile imagination, to weave a compelling narrative that children do not want to stop reading. In this book he gives an insight into the history of these stories from the author's perspective and from a historical perspective. Unfolding before us we hear how he has struggled with an idea until it has matured and developed into a complete and engaging plot, and we also glimpse something of his own life and experience on the way.
Each chapter unfolds the unique story of each of his own literary creations, and it is like discovering the story of the birth and early life of his children as we, the readers, are given a personal insight into 'family' truths and struggles along the way. What follows is an excerpt from the books he has written or a historical explanation of the facts upon which the story was based. Understandably then, this is a disjointed book, but it does allow us to discover much of the personal history of Michael Morpurgo and to understand why the name 'Michael' appears so frequently in his books. I have read many of Morpurgo's books, and have loved every one, recommending them to able readers who come into the school library; but now I think I may have to go back and read his entire anthology of work, so well does he introduce their genesis in 'Such stuff'. (Note my school has a good collection of students who clamour for 'More Morpurgo'!)
Recommended for those who have already devoured a number of Morpurgo's books; the references to his works would be meaningless without some connection to the author and his written work first.
Carolyn Hull

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