Pupils receive special message from world-renowned author

This story was published 21 March 2022

Children at a garrison school have received a personal video message from leading children’s author Sir Michael Morpurgo.

Year 5 pupils at Le Cateau Community Primary School

Year 5 pupils at Le Cateau Community Primary School had been reading Kensuke’s Kingdom in class, a tale of a shipwrecked young boy and his dog who are taught to survive Pacific island life by an ancient Japanese warrior, Kensuke.

The children were so inspired by the book they decided to send a special video message to the world-renowned author. Sir Michael is renowned for writing scores of award-winning children’s books, including War Horse which was adapted into film by the world-famous director, Stephen Spielberg.  

In their video, the children told him about their school in Catterick Garrison and asked the writer questions about his work. One pupil asked what he would be if he wasn’t an author, while another wanted to know about “Kensuke’s past” and how the author got his ideas for his character.

They also explained their pride in their school community, describing to Sir Michael how many of their parents serve in the armed forces and that they have lived in countries all around the world.

“Our teachers are kind and we care about the environment and nature… we have empathy and we always take a positive attitude,” said one child.  Another pupil was keen to tell the famous author about his own writing.   

The pupils’ efforts at reaching out to Sir Michael were not in vain; they received a personalised reply by the knighted novelist.  The talk, which lasts nearly 25 minutes and was filmed in his Devonshire home, details his writing processes, his inspirations and some insider knowledge on how Kensuke’s Kingdom came to pass.  

“I know your place. When I was in the army… we went up to Catterick Camp and we went stomping around on those Moors up there in the wind and the rain,” explained the 79 year old writer.  

He also explained that he used to be a primary school teacher and his writing career started when he told his own stories to his Year 6 class. They were so well received that the headteacher posted his manuscript off to a publishing house.  The rest is history.  

Michael Morpurgo ended his video thanking the children, telling them that their video had “made his day.”  

Deputy Headteacher, Kate Maxwell, who set up the connection said: “It is not every day that the opportunity arises to have contact with a world famous author, so I was thrilled when Sir Michael agreed to create a video reply for our pupils.  

“It is even better that he shares the armed forces connection with our pupils and understands how this impacts upon their lives.

“We are so grateful to him for providing such a detailed and thorough response to the children’s questions. 

“Watch this space as I am sure that we have some budding writers among us who will be gracing your bookshelves in the future!” 

Assistant Director for Education and Skills, Amanda Newbold, said: “Kensuke’s Kingdom is also one of my favourite children’s books, which I always enjoyed reading with my classes when I was teaching.

“Reading helps children emotionally, culturally and educationally, so it’s great to see the enthusiasm which prompted them to create the video for Sir Michael Morpurgo.  It was wonderful that they received such a personal response from him.”

Headteacher at Le Cateau, Ian Mottram, said: “Our Year 5 pupils will remember for many years to come; making memories for our highly mobile population is exactly what our school is all about.”