Reader Reviewed Why The Whales Came by Michael Morpurgo

Why The Whales Came

Written by Michael Morpurgo

11+ readers   9+ readers   Michael Morpurgo   The World Wars   
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The Lovereading4Kids comment

A terrific page-turner set during World War One in which two children befriend a man who lives alone on an island in the Isles of Scilly. As their friendship develops he tells the children of a dreaded curse that has afflicted a nearby island. Determined to find out more and to lift the curse it becomes a race against time and against all the other inahbitants of the Isles of Scilly for the children to prevent the curse from striking again. The author's ability to interweave fact and fiction into an empowering adventure is second to none.

Reader Reviews

A small number of children were lucky enough to be invited to review Why the Whales CameClick Here to read the full reviews.

  • Anna Sheridan, age 10 - 'This book was a great read. I always wanted to know what would happen next which is a sign of a very good book.'  
  • Oliver Shutt, age 11 - 'I think that Why the Whales Came is a very good book and I would recommend it to young readers. It also draws you into the scene and you are completely lost in time.'  


Why The Whales Came by Michael Morpurgo

'You keep away from the Birdman,' warned Gracie's father. 'Keep well clear of him, you hear me now?' But Gracie and her friend Daniel discover the Birdman isn't mad or dangerous as everyone says. Yet he does warn them to stay away from the abandoned Samson Island, one of the islands that make up the Scilly Isles - he says it's cursed. And when the children are stranded on Samson by fog, Gracie returns to hear tragic news. Could the Birdman be right? The curse that struck Samson is about to strike again on Bryher, and the inhabitants seem only to be welcoming it with their greed and hatred. Together Birdman and the children stop them killing the narhwals, and turn the whales back out to sea. We know the curse is truly lifted when Gracie's father, who had been missing presumed dead after a battle, returns to the village, alive.


About the Author

Michael Morpurgo

March 16 was Michael Morpurgo month on Lovereading4kids - click here to view the favourites we selected on themes of Legends, Animals, War and Journeys.

Michael Morpurgo, OBE, MBE, is one of the UK’s best-loved authors and storytellers. He was appointed Children’s Laureate in May 2003, a post he helped to set up with his friend Ted Hughes in 1999. He was awarded an OBE for services to Literature in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2007. He has written over 120 books, including Kensuke’s Kingdom which won the Children’s Book Award 2000 and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Children’s Book Award and the Carnegie Medal in 2000. His novel, Private Peaceful, a harrowing story about the First World War was published in Autumn 2003. It won the 2004 Red House Children’s Book Award and the Blue Peter Book Award in 2005. His novel Shadow about a boy from Afghanistan and the dog he befriends won the Red House Children’s Book Award, voted for by children.

Many of Michael’s books have been adapted for the stage. These include Private Peaceful, Kensuke’s Kingdom, Why the Whales Came and The Mozart Question, and most notably, the National Theatre’s production of War Horse which then moved to a theatre in central London. This production of Michael’s moving and powerful story of survival on the Western Front, which reached number one in the Observer’s top ten theatre performances and was also awarded the best design prize in the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. This production also played in New York where it was awarded five Tony Awards. In 2012 the film adaptation of War Horse, directed by Steven Spielberg, was a box office success.
Michael travels all over the UK and abroad talking to children and telling his stories and encouraging them to tell theirs.

In 1976, Michael and his wife, Clare, started the charity Farms for City Children. They help to run three farms around the country, in Gloucestershire, Pembrokeshire and North Devon. Each farm offers children and teachers from urban primary schools the chance to live and work in the countryside for a week, and gain hands-on experience. For more information about the work of Farms for City Children, please visit

Michael Morpurgo lives in Devon with his wife Clare. He has three children and seven grandchildren.

Michael Morpurgo was our Guest Editor in June 2010. Click here to see the books that inspired his writing, or scroll down to see books written by Michael.

Anthony Horowitz on Michael Morpurgo:

'Michael Morpurgo is the most solid, classical of children's authors. He sits outside the series-driven blockbusters so beloved of publishers nowadays: he hasn't created a Harry Potter or an Alex Rider – and I admire him for resisting that. We are opposite sides of the same coin and, although his work has never influenced mine, I admire the eloquent, considered voice of his best books. He has an unerring moral compass – his schoolteacher past has never quite left him – and books such as War Horse and The Butterfly Lion have a strong social concience and an honesty that makes them universal.' (The Guardian)

Why not CLICK HERE to take a peek at Michael’s 10 Rules for Writing.

or Click here to read a Q&A with the author.

You can also read about his life in a new biography, War Child to War Horse, to which he has contributed seven stories - click here to find out more.

Michael is the inaugural President of the Historical Writers Association starting from Autumn 2011, ( It was founded to bring social and professional support to writers of historical fiction and non-fiction, publishers, agents and booksellers, all bound both by their common interest in historical books and by the sense of community that comes from a shared obsession.

Since its creation, the Historical Writers' Association has launched a Festival of Historical Writing in association with English Heritage as part of their Festival of History at Kelmarsh in Northamptonshire.


March 2016 was Michael Morpurgo Month - a special month-long celebration of the varied and wonderful works of Michael Morpurgo as he celebrates his 70th year and also to mark the 40th anniversary of his and his wife’s Farms for City Children charity. Each week we featured a different selection of books under the themes of Journeys, War, Legends and Animals. We invited our readers to review many of the books that featured during Michael Morpurgo month - and you can download all their reviews here.

If you like Michael Morpurgo you might also like to read books by Robert Westall, Anne Fine, Sarah Lean and Celia Rees.

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Book Info


192 pages
Interest Age: From 10


Michael Morpurgo
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Egmont Books Ltd an imprint of Egmont Childrens Books

Publication date

5th February 2007




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