The Making of a Storyteller

Morpurgo did not set out to be a best-selling author. He was an elementary school teacher, and he read to his class everyday. Unfortunately, He said that the kids didn’t like the books he picked out. They were bored the whole time.

As you listen to words, each of you make your own picture, bringing your whole self to it... It‘s a wonderful way to develop elasticity in your mind.

“I will show you what a bored English school child looks like,” Morpurgo said. “It’s a ghastly look!” Morpurgo slumped in his chair and his face went slack. His mouth hung open stupidly, and we all started laugh. Just then, he sat up again and said getting the kids to pay attention seemed impossible. “It was like herding cats,” he said

Morpurgo was disappointed at his students’ reaction. So he talked it over with his wife, Claire, who was also a teacher. She told him to create his own story and put down the book. The next day, Morpurgo told his kids a riveting story from his own imagination and the children paid attention. 

“I write for and about children, because I was a teacher,” Morpurgo said. “I discovered what children love, and what children really love is a good story. I wasn’t ‘inspired’ to write for children. I was persuaded when I discovered this.”

Morpugo told us, “As you listen to words, each of you make your own picture, bringing your whole self to it. You exercise your imagination, your creativity. Through reading you learn to emphathize. It‘s a wonderful way to develop elasticity in your mind.”

Now here is a little surprise: Morpurgo has never had writer’s block. Why? He thinks that people get writer’s block when they start writing their stories too early. Morpurgo said that if one dreams up one’s story first, there will be no shortage of words on the paper.

“What counts is the time before you start writing,” Morpurgo said. “You have to know and care about what you’re writing about.”


War Horse Transformed

When the National Theatre Company of Great Britain approached Morpurgo to change his book into a play, they said that they would use puppets for the animals. Morpurgo was skeptical. 

“Puppets?” he asked. “I thought that was stupid.” 

When he actually saw the puppets, however, he was impressed. Morpurgo said that when he saw how well made, beautiful, and realistic the puppets were on stage, it brought tears to his eyes. The National Theatre Company changed some parts of his story for the show, but in the end, they put on a beautiful show.