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Kensuke's Kingdom

Kensuke's Kingdom

4.6 18
by Michael Morpurgo, Derek Jacobi (Read by)

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Washed up on an island in the Pacific with his dog Stella, Michael struggles to survive on his own. He can't find food. He can't find water. But just when things are at their worst, Michael realizes that he and Stella are not alone. His fellow castaway, Kensuke, has lived on the island since the bombing of his native Nagasaki. Kensuke keeps his distance at first, but


Washed up on an island in the Pacific with his dog Stella, Michael struggles to survive on his own. He can't find food. He can't find water. But just when things are at their worst, Michael realizes that he and Stella are not alone. His fellow castaway, Kensuke, has lived on the island since the bombing of his native Nagasaki. Kensuke keeps his distance at first, but slowly, he lets the boy into his world. The two teach and learn from each other until, inevitably, they must talk about escape.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Whitbread winner Morpurgo (Waiting for Anya) tries his hand at high-seas action in this tale of a 12-year-old who washes up on a tiny island in the Pacific in 1988. When the brickworks that employs Mike's parents closes, Mike's father comes up with a novel idea: he invests the family's life savings in a sailboat and hires someone to train the three of them to operate the boat. Before long Mike and his parents, and his faithful dog, Stella, are off on a voyage around the globe. But one night, while alone on deck, Mike falls overboard. After hours in the water and losing consciousness (he dreams someone with strong arms has hauled him to safety), Mike comes to on the shore of an apparently deserted island. Readers hoping for a survival story on the order of Hatchet or Island of the Blue Dolphins instead will find a highly romanticized tale in which a saddened but wise Japanese army doctor, shipwrecked near the end of WWII and unwilling to return home, not only rescues Mike but teaches him to fish, cook and paint ("As I watched [Kensuke painting] I became so engrossed that the failing light of evening always came too soon for me"). The languid descriptions and the clusters of coincidences create the ambience of fantasy; this story reads like a pleasantly extended daydream. Ages 8-12. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
During a round-the-world trip on his family's boat, 12-year-old Michael and his dog are swept overboard and later wash up on a remote island. They are not alone: a Japanese doctor has been marooned there since the end of World War II. Despite initial mistrust, the English boy and the Asian man become friends and learn from each other. Michael is brave, but he desperately misses his mum and dad and doubts he will ever see civilization again. Kensuke has had enough of war to know that he never again wants to be among his fellows. Although the story at times strains credulity, it has plenty to satisfy both the heart and the mind. Call it a cerebral survival tale. 2003, Scholastic, Ages 10 up.
—Donna Freedman
Set in 1987, this brief novel opens with eleven-year-old Michael departing England on a round-the-world yacht cruise with his parents and faithful sheepdog, Stella. Their adventure of a lifetime proceeds on course until disaster strikes in the Indian Ocean, when Stella is washed overboard and Michael leaps into the sea to save the animal. Struggling and near death, he is kept afloat by a souvenir soccer ball. Dreaming of angelic arms lifting him, Michael regains consciousness on a beach. Stella also survives, and together they desperately search the island for food and water. When nourishing supplies mysteriously appear, Michael knows that he is not the only human inhabitant of the island. Their benefactor is Kensuke, a Japanese survivor of World War II who has existed on the island for forty years. Originally from Nagasaki, the former soldier believes that his wife and son perished in the nuclear attack. He provides Michael with shelter, and as they overcome their language barrier, they begin a father-son relationship. Hoping for rescue, they pass time gathering food, protecting orangutans, and playing soccer. When a ship locates the castaways, Kensuke, still believing his family is dead, refuses to leave and states that the island is his home. Teens will scoff at the miracles that pop up, enabling Michael, Kensuke, and Stella not just to survive but to thrive on the island. The adult-youth friendship story line might attract lower middle school multicultural interest, but juvenile plotting and only brief flashes of excitement hamper any adventure potential. VOYA Codes: 2Q 2P M (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in thesubject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2003 (orig. 1999), Scholastic, 176p,
— Rollie Welch
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-This poignant adventure story begins in England in 1988 and ends halfway around the globe in a place that will change the 11-year-old protagonist forever. After losing his job, Michael's father surprises the family by purchasing a yacht in which they will sail around the world. In the first weeks at sea, Michael, his parents, and his dog, Stella, zigzag from England to Australia and across the Coral Sea, where Michael's reverie comes to a frightening end. In the middle of the night, he and Stella are swept overboard in a fierce storm, and he later awakens on an island beach. The island is a hostile jungle full of howling gibbons, voracious mosquitoes, and brutal heat, all of which challenge his ability to survive. Yet when he finds fresh water and food mysteriously laid out for him each morning, he realizes that he is not alone. He soon comes face-to-face with Kensuke, an old Japanese soldier who cautiously protects Michael in spite of the boy's dogged determination to build a bonfire that will signal potential rescuers, defying Kensuke's wish that the outside world never learn of his existence on the island. For nearly a year, the man and boy help each other, moving from an uneasy d tente to a deep friendship. What might have been just a gritty tale of survival evolves into a gentle parable about trust, compassion, love, and hope. This well-crafted story has all the thrills and intrigues of Gary Paulsen's Hatchet (Macmillan, 1986) and Theodore Taylor's The Cay (Avon, 1976), and it will resonate with the same audience.-William McLoughlin, Brookside School, Worthington, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
More adventure than ordeal, this survival tale will fit the bill for thoughtful readers discomfited by extreme violence or gross details. To Michael, the round-the-world sail he's taking with his parents aboard the 42-foot Peggy Sue is great fun, until the moment he and his dog Stella Artois are washed overboard. Michael comes to on a small island, inhabited by gibbons, a colony of orangutans-and Kensuke, a Japanese naval doctor stranded there more than 40 years before. The plot centers around Michael's emotional ups and down as he battles loneliness and mosquitoes, then grows closer to his rescuer, who supplies him with food and water, but makes him stay on one end of the island, at least until he's stung by a jellyfish, and needs nursing back to health. Kensuke has built a small, beautiful world for himself that he teaches Michael to see, and to paint, in exchange for English lessons and news of the outside. When Michael's steadfast parents arrive, after nearly a year's searching, to carry him and Stella away, Kensuke opts to stay behind-but it's plain that his spirit and simplicity have worked profound changes on his young charge. A prizewinning import: sensitive, perceptive, and well-told. (Fiction. 10-12)

Product Details

Ulverscroft Large Print Books, Ltd.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.33(w) x 5.51(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Morpurgo, former Children's Laureate of Britain, is the author of War Horse, called “Superb" by the New York Times Book Review, and now a major motion picture. His other prize-winning books include Kensuke's Kingdom, Private Peaceful, and The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips. Michael lives in Devon, England, with his wife, Clare. Together, they founded the charity Farms for City Children, which gives children from urban areas an opportunity to spend a week working on a farm in the countryside. You can find out more about him and his books at michaelmorpurgo.org.

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Kensuke's Kingdom 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
mariah17 More than 1 year ago
This book is really relevant for young readers.A young boy called michael 12 years had a fantastic life untill the day when it was his birthday when michael and hes dog Stella fell over board off a boat called the peggy sue and ended up on a island but there not alone.... This book gave me a tear in my eye at the end. I would recommenend this to anyone who likes sad storys. You wont just find out about orang-utans but you will find out about a doctor from japan and a little boy...
megj1 More than 1 year ago
This story is based in 1987. There is a 11 year old boy named michael, it starts off by him playing football with his best friend Eddie. Eddie moves away. Mom and Dad have a fight Dad buys a boat called The Peggy Sue. Michael and his family go sailing arouns the world (with there dog stella). However, it doesnt come quite to plan as Micheal and stella get washed over board ending up on an island.But they are not alone...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked it!!!
DanS18 More than 1 year ago
This is a book in the first person about a teenageboy called Michael and his dog Stella Artoriois.His Mom and Dad lost their jobs but Dad buys a boat called the Peggy Sue . A few events happend on the boat but one stormy night Michael and Stella get tosed over boad and Micheal and stella land on a mystery island ...but they not alone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I have just finished reading this book to my fourth grade class and have gotten the same response as I did from my last two classes. The kids love this book. It is a great book to use to teach many reading skills as well as begin discussions about empathy and history. I will continue to use this book every year. My only complaint is that the beginning is slow but if you can make it to the night Michael falls off the boat, you will be hooked.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you have not red this book yet, You should!!! it is awesome! I red it as a free time book in reading class, and I would always try to finish my work early to read this book! one time I got in trouble for reading when I was not suposed to 'OOOPS!'. anyway, this book has many clif-hangers, and interesting moments. I loved the ending too it made me think it was non-fiction for a second!! :' oh and by the way I am a very picky 'but random' reader, so it is a great task to inpress me with a book, but this one did!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kensuke¿s kingdom is a great and amazing book filled with adventures. Michael Morpurgo has made this book a masterpiece. This book is about a boy names Michael, Who climbs onboard the ship, The Peggy Sure, with his family and his dog Stella. The brave and young boy, with his family, go onboard searching for a job ever since his disappointed father lost his job due to the war with Japan. During a horrible and mysterious turn of events, he is thrown overboard into the roaring sea. When Michael recovers consciousness, he finds he in stuck on a deserted island. After 3 hopeless days of scavenging for any kind of food and edible water, he finds out, that he is not alone on this island. This mystery and adventure book is a very thrilling and exhilarating book for many readers to read. It was for me, and I am sure that you will love it just as I do.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book out loud to my 11 & 15 yr old. We all really enjoyed the story, it's exciting and adventurous. It's a short, quick read and worth it!! The ending is a little amazing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was full of excitment and kept me on my toes the whole time. I think this book was the fastest I have ever read a book in my life. I couldn't put it down.Kensuke's Kingdom was about a little boy and his dog who fell out of a boat a swam to the closest island, there they would meet someone who would become very specail in their lives.To keep them alive someone was secretly leaving food for them every day.Well i don't want to give the rest of this good book away.So to find out what happens you should read this interesting book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i thought it was a great book. it was a bout a 11 year old boy named Michael and his sheepdog who gets washed up on a deserted island and...see if he can serviveand see if he finds any one!
Guest More than 1 year ago
An 11 year old boy becomes shipwrecked on an island where he meets up with an older man who has been living there since WWII. This book gave me some historical facts about the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan. I became so interested that I researched this wartime information with my grandmother. Read this book because it is EXCITING and find out if they get rescued.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kensuke's Kingdom was a wonderful book about an 11 year old boy named Michael. Michael and his parents live on a yacht and are sailing around the world. Unfortunately, Michael falls overboard one night while his parents are sleeping. Michael finds himself on a little island shaped like a peanut. The only other human being was a Japanese man named Kensuke. Kensuke crashed there during World War II. Read this book and find out if Michael and Kensuke ever become friends and see how they survive on the island.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book wasnt at all as I expected, but it was the action that kept it going and it kept me going just as well. Not one of her best books, but the action and the boy's will to survive(With his dog)kept it a fair book to read, even if the book was short and somewhat fast to read. Read it and see for yourself.
jamieP1 More than 1 year ago
I realy enjoyed reading this book and i was pleading to finish it.It starts with a boy who goes sailing around the world .They visit their cousins in Autrallia that's were it happend-Michael and his dog Stella go overboard.Somehow they get washed on an island.They get to sleep in a cave,the next morning Stella was barking mad by some red bananas and fish .They were not alone...