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Best-selling children’s author Michael Morpurgo will read his brand-new book written for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, via a live-stream from Portsmouth Central Library, from 10.45am – 11.45am on Monday 23 May 2022.

120 school children from St Jude’s School will form the audience for the first live-streamed reading of There Once is a Queen, to a global virtual audience.

‘There Once is a Queen’ is a beautiful gift book illustrated by Michael Foreman which begins with Her Majesty The Queen as a child, planting an oak tree with her father. It follows her story in a way that brings The Queen’s incredible, historic reign vividly to life for readers around the globe, big and small.

Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, and Deputy Leader of Portsmouth City Council said: “I am delighted that Michael has chosen to share his new book with children from a Portsmouth School, and will use our wonderful children’s section at Portsmouth Central Library as the location for his live-stream reading.

“Anything which helps promote a culture of books and reading among children and young people in the city is warmly welcomed, and we are delighted to be involved in this event.”

Cllr Steve Pitt, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, and Economic Development said: “As a city planting many trees for the jubilee as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy, I was delighted that Michael has woven the planting of a tree into his story.

“This is a great event to kick-start our jubilee celebrations across the city, which end with our two free Big Lunch community events on Sunday 5 June.”

HarperCollins Children’s Books and The Reading Agency, the national charity that works with libraries to promote the power of reading to adults and children, have joined together to give 5,000 free copies of Michael Morpurgo’s There Once is a Queen to libraries across the UK and Northern Ireland. The Reading Agency’s charitable mission is to enable everyone to read their way to a better life – irrespective of age or economic background. Reading can tackle life’s big challenges, from social mobility to mental health and The Reading Agency are determined that no-one is left behind.

Michael Morpurgo comments, ““I am delighted that my publishers HarperCollins and The Reading Agency have joined together to donate our book to libraries across the country. Libraries have been, and continue to be, a constant in our communities, our schools, and lives. Libraries, and particularly the librarians who work in them, are vital for us all, but especially for those who need them most: those with least, young, and old.”

There will be an opportunity for questions at the end of the event. Please email your questions before Monday 23 May to using the subject heading Morpurgo Questions. Please note that not all questions will be able to be answered.

Please note that the reading at the library is not a public event but the live-stream is open to all to watch. Join here: