Michael Morpurgo and Patricia Wrightson

Question 60. Our first author got his start almost by accident. The students in his classes loved the stories he told, so he wrote them down. His discovery has led to over 100 books. His books have won numerous awards and one is that is currently being made into a film by none other than Steven Spielberg.

In addition to being a prolific author, he is also a children’s rights advocate and started the Farms for City Children program that has been active for 30 years.

Do you know who he is?

If you haven’t heard of Michael Morpurgo yet, I’m sure you will soon. His book, War Horse was turned into a play with critically-acclaimed performances in London. It is now being brought to Broadway (March 15, 2011) and made into a film by Steven Spielberg.

In this trailer, you can see the incredible horse “puppets” that are used in the play.

Morpurgo started his career as a teacher. At the school where he taught, he was required to read to the students at the end of each day. One day he realized the children weren’t connecting with the book. His wife suggested he tell them on of his own tales. The students were so excited about his stories that before long he was writing them down and getting them published.

In this video, he gives the details:

Isn’t he still a wonderful storyteller?

Many of his books are still available. I know I will be trying to get my hands on them.

Question 61. Our second author had a lofty goal. She wanted children to be able to read books by Australian authors. Going to the myths and legends of the local people, she then developed stories that were distinctly of the land. Perhaps you’ve heard of The Nargun and the Stars? Her fantasy novels received attention not only in Australia, but throughout the world and in 1986 she won the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing.

Do you know who this woman who helped formulate Australian children’s literature might be?

Patricia Wrightson spent most of her life in the North Coast Region of New South Wales. She first started publishing in the 1950’s and her first book won the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year in 1956. Three of her following works also won.

In homage to Wrightson’s pioneering efforts, the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature was named in her honor.

Some of Patricia Wrightson’s books include: