HIS magical tales came alive from the words the children had read on the page.
And delighted children then got to meet the storyteller in person at the annual Book Awards ceremony at the Kings Theatre in Southsea.
Children’s author Michael Morpurgo met youngsters in Portsmouth who had picked his novel as their favourite.
It followed the annual Book Award and Reader of the Year competition – run by the school library service to promote a love of reading.
The scheme works by pupils reading a shortlist of books and then voting for their winner. The Shorter Novel category is judged by more than 1,500 Year 5 pupils from 25 Portsmouth schools.
The winner is Half A Man by Mr Morpurgo. This moving story about the physical and mental scars of war was a popular choice among the pupil voters.
This is the second time the former Children’s Laureate and author of War Horse has been awarded the prize, having previously won with his book, Cool, in 2004.
The acclaimed author praised the city’s enthusiastic librarians for inspiring children in the city to read.
He added: ‘One thousand children in a theatre, cheering and whooping about books, and writing their poetry, singing their songs and making their plays. Bravo Portsmouth! You don’t need a football team when you’ve got such great libraries and great children.’
Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Ken Ellcome, congratulated the Readers of the Year at the ceremony.
The Readers of the Year are Tadi Matanhire, 10, from Milton Park Primary, and Riley Harold, 10, from Copnor Primary School.
Billie Edge, Tadi’s teacher at Milton, said: ‘Tadi reads several times a day.
‘Every opportunity she gets, she will pick up a book and read. Her enthusiasm has encouraged several reluctant readers in her class to really find enjoyment in their reading.’
Lucy Warwick, Riley’s teacher at Copnor, said: ‘Riley is very confident at recommending books to his peers and supports others with their reading.’
Several schools gave performances at the reading celebration: Court Lane Junior School performed a drama based on the winning book, devised by their Year 5 Drama Group; Cottage Grove Primary School wrote and sang a song based on the winning book and pupils from St John’s Catholic Primary School wrote and performed an original poem.
There was also an art competition and a selection of the drawings and paintings were shown. Four of the best artists receiving book token prizes were: Robert Gorman from Craneswater Junior School; Daisy-May Smith from Langstone Junior School; Ben Clarke from Meon Junior School and Sofia Doan from St John’s Catholic Primary School.