Novelist Michael Morpurgo wins UK Children’s Book Award for fourth time

‘An Eagle in the Snow’ by Michael Morpurgo. — HarperCollins Children’s Books/Michael Morpurgo handout pic via AFP-Relaxnews
‘An Eagle in the Snow’ by Michael Morpurgo. — HarperCollins Children’s Books/Michael Morpurgo handout pic via AFP-Relaxnews

NEW YORK, June 13 — On June 10, the British novelist Michael Morpurgo became the first writer to be awarded the national Children’s Book Award for the fourth time, for his latest publication An Eagle in the Snow.

A poet, playwright and librettist, Michael Morpurgo is best known for his children’s adventure novels, including War Horse (1982), The Wreck of the Zanibar (1995) and Private Peaceful (2003). His first children’s book, It Never Rained, was a collection of five short stories published in 1974. From 2003 to 2005 Morpurgo served as the third British Children”s Laureate, and was awarded an OBE in 2006 in recognition of his services to literature.

Inspired by Ted Hughes, poet Sean Rafferty and Ernest Hemingway, Morpurgo’s style is known for drawing on true and sometimes even personal experiences with a preference for historical context and rural settings. Many of his novels have been adapted for the stage and television, notably War Horse — arguably the novelist’s most famous book — which was adapted into a 2011 movie directed by Steven Spielberg.

Based on a true story, An Eagle in the Snow follows the adventures of a young man who had the chance to prevent the First World War. The narrative is recounted by a stranger to a boy during WWII while their train is under attack. The novel is recommended for children aged 7-11.

The Children’s Book Award was inaugurated in 1981, and sets itself apart from other British literary prizes through its judging format: selections are made entirely by children. Nominations are divided into four categories (Overall, Younger Children, Older Children and Younger Readers), and children then vote for their favourite UK-published children’s book. Previous winners include My Head Teacher is a Vampire Rat (2016) by Pamela Butchart and The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. Children from around the world are invited to vote online.

Michael Morpurgo is the first writer to receive the Overall award for a fourth time, which he shares with his illustrator Michael Foreman. An Eagle in the Snow also won the Younger Readers category. The Older Readers award was given to One by Sarah Crossan, and the Younger Children award went to Oi Dog! by Kes and Claire Gray and illustrated by Jim Field. The results were announced at a ceremony in London on June 10, 2017. — AFP-Relaxnews

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