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Not Bad for a Bad Lad

Written by Michael Morpurgo

Illustrated by Michael Foreman

Featured Books for 7+ readers Featured Books for 9+ readers Recommended Children's eBooks Animals

LoveReading View on Not Bad for a Bad Lad

This wonderful story was inspired by a conversation that Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman had about a prison at Hollesley Bay in Suffolk that Michael Foreman remembered from growing up nearby. Into this Michael Morpurgo weaves his story of how the relationship between a man – who starts work in the prison stable - and a horse can change a life forever, when you show someone how to follow their dreams.

Master storyteller and former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo tells a heart-warming story of how a bad lad becomes a good lad as a result of being treated well and finding something to be good at and to love. A grandpa tells his life story evocatively capturing the changes that came over him when he was given the chance to take care of horses that he loved and cherished. Michael Foreman’s stunning illustrations capture the mood of the story perfectly.


A message from Philippa Perry who works at the publisher:

'Of the 20 or so books the two Michaels have written and illustrated together, I think this is truly one of the best and I heartily recommend it.'


reader reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for Not Bad for a Bad Lad a small number of children were lucky enough to be invited to review this title. Here's a taster....'He was bad, he knew he was bad but when the grandfather is telling the story he always sees something positive about what and why it was happening.'


Scroll down to read the full review...


Not Bad for a Bad Lad Synopsis

This is the wonderfully moving story of redemption from one of the greatest living children's writers Micheal Morpurgo and featuring stunning illustrations from three-time Greenaway Medal winner Michael Foreman. When a young boy gets a reputation for being naughty at school, he reacts by being the bad lad that everyone expects. Leaving school at fourteen, he becomes a thief and eventually ends up in Hollesley Prison. But Mr Alfie, the stable manager, decides to give the boy a chance, letting him look after the horses. 

Not Bad for a Bad Lad Press Reviews

Below is a review written by Tilly Dickinson, age 9

He was bad, he knew he was bad but when the grandfather is telling the story he always sees something positive about what and why it was happening.

I really liked this book, it is a grandfather telling his grandson the story of his life, it is him telling the truth...that he was bad and he isn't proud of the way he was. He tells the story that even though he was bad a few people could see the good in him, even when he couldn't and was sent to Borstal.

Every day he has to go for a run and the best bit was running past the stables because he liked the music that was playing and looking at the horses. Eventually he gets noticed by 'Mr Alfie' who runs the stables, he starts working and finds he loves it. He gets taught to respect the horses and discovers that they respect him back, particularly one horse 'Dombey' that he is put in charge of.

He leaves Borstal and finds he has nowhere to go and nothing to do until he helps a soldier with a nervous horse.  The soldier sees how good he is with the horse and suggests that he joins the army where he meets his old friend 'Dombey'. I liked the way everything works out in the end, he gets to do the things he loves best, be with the horses and play drums. Basically it's not bad for a bad lad, he turned out okay.

The only thing I didn't like about the book was that it was too short, I wish it had lasted longer!




Further Praise for Not Bad for a Bad Lad.

"A classic collaboration and a tale of redemption." Fiona Noble, The Bookseller

“… the message is that youngsters need to feel good about themselves." Nicolette Jones, Sunday Times

"This is a beautiful book, from cover to cover, and a beautiful story too. …" Armadillo Magazine

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781848124714
Publication date: 05/11/2015
Publisher: Piccadilly Press Ltd an imprint of Templar Publishing
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781848124714
Publication date: 24/02/2012
Publisher: Templar Publishing
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781848773127
Publication date: 01/05/2010
Publisher: Templar Publishing
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781848773127
Publication date: 01/05/2010
Publisher: Templar Publishing
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781848773127
Publication date: 1st May 2010
Author: Michael Morpurgo
Illustrator: Michael Foreman
Publisher: Templar Publishing
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 128 pages
Suitable for: 7+ readers, 9+ readers
Genres: Animals
Recommendations: eBooks

About Michael Morpurgo

Winner of J M Barrie Award 2016 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’...

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