Posts Tagged Michael Foreman

More War Horse

(c) Bridget Worth

It’s curious what fiction can do, how a painting in a story can become a real painting. Such a picture,  invented in War Horse had to be created for real. I’m copying this blog:

Morpurgo’s myth revealed

By Emily Butcher | Published: 31 OCTOBER 2011

After 20 years, Michael Morpurgo reveals the hidden truth behind the opening lines of his hugely popular novel War Horse, in a warm and humorous interview with Clare Balding.

In the old school they now use for the village hall, below the clock that has stood always at one minute past ten, hangs a small dusty painting of a horse. He stands, a splendid red bay with a remarkable white cross emblazoned on his forehead and with four perfectly matched white socks. He looks wistfully out of the picture, his ears pricked forward, his head turned as if he has just noticed us standing there.

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Little did Michael know, when he first drafted these fictional lines back in 1981, what a worldwide success his book, and the subsequent National Theatre stage production, would become; nor the havoc it would wreak on a certain Mrs Weeks of Iddesleigh, Devon.

Mrs Weeks, the lady who now lives next to the village hall mentioned in Michael’s opening lines, is regularly inundated with War Horse enthusiasts searching for the painting of Joey. However, their quest has always been in vain as the painting has never existed…until now.

To help Mrs Weeks stave off disappointed visitors, Michael asked Ali Bannister, the equine artist from the upcoming Spielberg-directed film, to create an oil painting ofJoey. And, before it takes pride of place on the wall of Iddesleigh village hall, visitors to the National Army Museum can see the painting displayed for the first time ever in the War Horse: Fact & Fiction exhibition.


“I go about once every six weeks to make sure it’s still there”!

… and now, watching this, I realise there’s a sequel, and one of those beautifully drawn and painted books by Michael Foreman (I’ve mentioned these before), and Morpurgo’s favourite among his books…


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sara fanellii and company

The Guardian has a series on great illustrators. Here’s Sarah Fanelli:

Sara Fanelli’s originality has brought a breath of fresh air to the world of British picture books. With an off-beat sense of humour and an inventive approach to everything from page design and typography to choice of materials…

Sara Fenelli: Sara Fenelli  Sara Fenelli: Sara Fenelli  Sara Fenelli: Sara Fenelli  Sara Fenelli: Sara Fenelli  Sara Fenelli: Sara Fenelli  Sara Fenelli: Sara Fenelli  Sara Fenelli: Sara Fenelli  Sara Fenelli: Sara Fenelli  Sara Fenelli: Sara Fenelli  Sara Fenelli: Sara Fenelli  Sara Fanelli: Sara Fanelli  Sara Fenelli: Sara Fenelli  Sara Fenelli: Sara Fenelli  Sara Fenelli: Sara Fenelli  Sara Fenelli: Sara Fenelli

The artists in the other Great Children’s Illustrators series are also all brilliant stars in the world of children’s books:

John Burningham

Satoshi Kitamura

Michael Foreman

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war boy

War Boy, Michael Foreman’s autobiographical account of life as a small boy in Pakefield, near Lowestoft, during the Second World War. Together with his Mum, brothers Ivan and Bernard (known as Pud), and Aunt Louie he survives when incendiary bombs hit their house and outside toilet. His Mum’s shop becomes a haven for soldiers and sailors billeted nearby. They drink tea, smoke and swap jokes, providing Foreman with a rich and varied vocabulary. He vividly recalls a young boy’s delights and anxieties against the backdrop of much wider horrors. The illustrations include reproductions of contemporary material such as cigarette cards and posters.
In this picture: his memory of the bombing of Pakefield Church, Monday 21st April, 1941.

The Guardian shows us some of the brilliant art work from the book (and others):


During the war the shop was always full of customers. Before I could walk my world was a world of legs – soldiers’ legs, sailors’ legs, bus drivers’ legs and, worst of all, little old ladies’ legs. Growing up in the shop was fantastic – American GIs, Poles, Czechs, Australians, troops from all over the world came to our shop for cigarettes and cups of tea and inspired my desire to travel the world.

Here he is on his approach to illustration:

I keep trying to make things more real, not in a literal photographic sense, but in an emotional sense , telling a story by capturing the essence of the situation, giving it some meaning.

It is a wonderful thing to have someone who can pass on the history of the great events of living memory in such a real way. Every place, every time should have one.

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Michael Foreman

from The Guardian:

Michael Foreman’s first picture book, The General, was published in 1961. In the half-century since he has become one of the best-known British writer-illustrators, with more than 300 titles for both adults and children. Foreman’s own stories often focus on conflict and war. His acclaimed autobiography War Boy: A Country Childhood, which combines photographs and adverts with watercolours and pen-and-ink drawings, is now being exhibited at the National Army Museum. The General, written at the height of the cold war, has been republished to mark its 50th anniversary.

  1. Michael Foreman: War Boy
  2. Michael Foreman: War Boy
  3. Michael Foreman: War Boy
  4. Michael Foreman: Dinosaurs
  5. Michael Foreman: War and Peas
  6. Michael Foreman: Mia's Story
  7. Michael Foreman: Mia's Story
  8. Michael Foreman: War Game
  9. Michael Foreman: Terry Jones Fairy Tales
  10. Michael Foreman: Classic Fairy Tales
  11. Michael Foreman: The Mozart Question
  12. Michael Foreman: A Child's Garden
  13. Michael Foreman: Illustration from The General by Michael Foreman

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more on Gawain


Somehow Michael Morpurgo keeps some of the poetry of the telling.


Here is another translation – as a small sample – of the bit where the lady of the castle comes to tempt and test Gawain while the lord is out hunting. Gawain pretends to be asleep and …

Then he straightened and stretched and stirring toward her
he opened his eyes and acted astounded.
Then he crossed himself as if he claimed protection
from that sight –

Her chin and cheeks were sweet,
lending red and white;
er voice a pleasant treat
here small lips smiled delight.

Now and again I look at the original – which would be impossible for me to read – and spot a few familiar words. Here’s the same bit in middle English:

Þen he wakenede, and wroth, and to hir warde torned,
And vnlouked his y3e-lyddez, and let as hym wondered,
And sayned hym, as bi his sa3e þe sauer to worthe,
with hande.

Wyth chynne and cheke ful swete,
Boþe quit and red in blande,
Ful lufly con ho lete
Wyth lyppez smal la3ande.

I’ve just spotted a cartoon version on youtube – which has the defect of being over much too quickly – I hate to lose any of the details of the story:
(looking at it again there’s lots that I like in the original that’s not there – but well done to ’em for making it)

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