Tag archives: Michael Morpurgo

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Reading between the lines

There was a fascinating programme on Radio 4 yesterday, the first of a two-part series in which Michael Morpurgo explores the teaching of reading. ‘As easy as ABC’ concentrated in particular on the push for synthetic phonics. There were differing views at the end on the crucial issue of how to bridge the gap between being able to decode and wanting to read. In next Tuesday’s episode Morpurgo will consider how past teaching methods are informing current thinking.

I love this photo of learning to read in action in a family literacy workshop I ran in Enfield.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Alone on a Wide Wide Sea by Michael Morprurgo

Recently I blogged about the film Oranges and Sunshine, which explores the UK’s enforced child migration scheme. Since then I discovered that the scheme also provided the inspiration for a novel by the wonderful Michael Morpurgo, Alone on a Wide Wide Sea. Expatriation from England as a young orphan has scarred Arthur Hobhouse’s life. A boat-builder in his mid-sixties, he looks back on the hardships, losses and abuses he experienced, and their impact on him: aimless drifting over many years, gambling and despair. Despite its unflinching depiction of childhood and adult suffering, the book is by no means all bleak. Arthur has also known true friendship, wonderful parenting from an unusual and mesmeric woman deep in the bush, a life-enhancing bond with boats and the sea, and finally, in middle age, redemption, with love and fatherhood. There is unexpected excitement too, as sixty years after her father’s trip from one side of the world to the other, his daughter Allie sails single-handedly to England in a yacht designed by him, determined to trace the sister he lost all that time ago.

This is a powerful and moving book.