Kensuke's Kingdom

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Kensuke's Kingdom
Kensuke's Kingdom.jpg
AuthorMichael Morpurgo
IllustratorMichael Foreman
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreHistorical fiction
Published1999 Egmont UK Ltd
Media typePrint (HardbackPaperback)

Kensuke's Kingdom is a children's novel by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Michael Foreman. It was first published in 1999[1] by Egmont UK. Since then, many more editions have been released by various other publishers, such as Scholastic.[2].

Book summary[edit]

A young boy called Michael travels with his parents around the world on the yacht Peggy Sue after his parents lose their jobs at the brickworks and decide to sail the seven seas. Michael's parents teach him what he would have normally learnt at school and he has a log that he writes in. They travel from England to Africa, South America and Australia. He was on the lookout one night with his sheepdog, Stella Artois, and they awake to discover that they were on an island near Australia. While Michael struggles to survive on the island, food is regularly left for him. To his surprise, he learns that an elderly Japanese man called Kensuke is also living on the island. Kensuke helps Michael to survive. Kensuke was the one who saved Michael when Michael was thrown overboard. Michael teaches Kensuke English, and Kensuke teaches Michael how to paint, how to fish with a spear and where to find the best food (such as red bananas) and water. He is eventually revealed to be a doctor and survivor of World War II, and he believes that his family, including his wife Kimi, and son Michaya, died in Nagasaki after the atomic bomb was dropped there on 9 August 1945. Over time Kensuke begins to understand how Michael feels and how he misses his family. Together they build a beacon that can be lit to signal to ships, but for a long time they see no sign of any ships. Later, however, Michael witnesses a junk and he consults Kensuke as to whether or not he should light the beacon. Kensuke recognises the ship (killers from America) and he and Michael rush to gather all the orangutans into the cave to protect them from the threat that lies in the ship. They nearly succeed but cannot find one particular orang-utan, the one Kensuke calls Kikanbo. The ship arrives and they hear gunshots. When the ship leaves, they discover that some gibbon monkeys have been killed, but that Kikanbo had survived. The next time they see a ship it is not the poachers, and they both light the fire. The crew on the ship see the fire and change direction, heading towards the island. When the boat is closer, Michael sees that the boat is the Peggy Sue,

with his parents on board. Kensuke decides at that point, despite thinking otherwise earlier, that he will not be sailing home with Michael; he says "This is my place. This Kensuke's Kingdom. Emperor must stay in his Kingdom, look after his people. Emperor does not run away. Not honourable thing to do."

Kensuke tells him to keep everything a secret until ten years have passed, when Kensuke passes away. Michael runs out to the beach where the ship had landed and is reunited with his parents. In the postscript, it is revealed that 4 years after the book was published, Kensuke's son in the novel, Michaya, had survived and wrote to Michael asking to meet him in person to talk about Kensuke. Michael notes that he laughs just like his father.


In August 2018, WildChild Productions will be taking a theatrical adaptation of Kensuke's Kingdom by Stuart Paterson to Edinburgh Festival Fringe.[3] It will feature a voiceover by Jenny Agutter.


External links[edit]