The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

By William Joyce; William Joyce (Illustrator); Joe Bluhm (Illustrator)
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Hardcover, 9781442457027, 56pp.)

Publication Date: June 19, 2012

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback, Paperback, Hardcover

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Description

The book that inspired the Academy Awardwinning short film, from New York Times bestselling author and beloved visionary William Joyce.

Morris Lessmore loved words.

He loved stories.

He loved books.

But every story has its upsets.

     Everything in Morris Lessmore’s life, including his own story, is scattered to the winds.

     But the power of story will save the day.

     Stunningly brought to life by William Joyce, one of the preeminent creators in children’s literature, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a modern masterpiece, showing that in today’s world of traditional books, eBooks, and apps, it’s story that we truly celebrate—and this story, no matter how you tell it, begs to be read again and again.




About the Author

William Joyce has put his personal stamp on all types of children’s media. His books include the New York Times bestseller The Man in the Moon, Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King, E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core!, and Santa Calls. He’s won three Emmy awards for his Rolie Polie Olie animated series, developed character concepts for Toy Story and A Bug’s Life, and made films including Robots and Meet the Robinsons. He’s currently executive producer of the DreamWorks Animation release of Rise of the Guardians (Fall 2012) inspired by his new series. He is also producing The Leaf Men, based on his book The Leaf Men. And his star continues to rise—he won an Academy Award for his innovative short film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. He lives in Shreveport, LA, and is the founder of Moonbot Studios.




Praise For The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

* "Ironically, this book in praise of books first appeared as a much-praised iPad app and Academy Award–winning animated short film.

The story, in a nutshell, concerns the titular book-loving Mr. Morris Lessmore, whose personal library is blown away in a terrible wind but who finds meaning caring for the books he finds in a marvelous library. Filled with both literary (Shakespeare, Humpty-Dumpty) and film references (The Wizard of Oz, The Red Balloon and Buster Keaton), the picture book version of Joyce's story has a quiet contemplative charm that demonstrates the continuing allure of the printed page. Paradoxically, the animated books of the film and app are captured as though in a series of frozen frames. The motif of the bound, printed book is everywhere. Even the furnishings and architectural details of the old-fashioned library in which the books “nest” like flying birds recall the codex. The unifying metaphor of life as story is a powerful one, as is the theme of the transformative power of books. The emphasis on connecting readers and books and the care of books pays homage to librarianship. Rich in allusions (“Less is More”) and brilliant in depicting the passage of time (images conflate times of day, seasons and years), Joyce’s work will inspire contemplation of the power of the book in its many forms.

As triumphant in book form as in animated and interactive ones."

--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Joyce’s magnificently illustrated book-about-books inspired—yet arrives after—his 2011 animated short film of the same name, which won an Oscar. The unusual sequence of film-to-book (there’s an app, too) suggests that while books are indeed glorious things, what really matters is story. This one follows a dreamy bibliophile named Morris Lessmore, who loses his cherished book collection to a cataclysmic storm that’s half Katrina (Joyce is from Louisiana) and half Wizard of Oz. After meeting a “lovely lady... being pulled along by a festive squadron of flying books,” Morris finds an abandoned library whose books are alive and whose covers beat like the wings of birds. They flutter around him protectively, watch as he starts writing again, and care for him as he ages: “They read themselves to him each night.” Underneath this book-about-books, there’s a deeper story of love, loss, and healing, one that will be appreciated as much (if not more) by adults as by children."

--Publishers Weekly

* "If you loved the Oscar-winning film that goes by the same title, you will take to heart the book on which it is based. William Joyce exploits each medium to the fullest.

Morris Lessmore's life 'was a book of his own writing, one orderly page after another.' This serene opening scene shatters when a twister carries Morris away and sets him down in a black-and-white terrain. A woman appears in vibrant color in the sky, pulled by 'a festive squadron of flying books.' She sends down a volume with Humpty Dumpty featured in its pages, and the fellow leads Morris to a large building where light shines through the windows and shelves of books flutter their pages, 'as if each book were asking to be opened.'

In Joyce's artwork, the books come to life as a full cast of characters. After Morris repairs a damaged book, he reads it to revive it. He runs across the tops of capital letters and dangles from the hook of a J. 'All stories matter,'" he concludes. As Morris distributes books to his queued-up neighbors, they turn from black-and-white sketches to full-color portraits. In the most moving scene, the books surround the now white-haired man: 'Morris Lessmore became stooped and crinkly. But the books never changed. Their stories stayed the same,'" and they care for him as he has cared for them.

Morris stands in for all book lovers, and reminds us of the way stories live on only when we share them."

-- Shelf Awareness, starred review

JOYCE, William. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. illus. by author. 56p. S & S/Atheneum. 2012. ebook $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-6489-6; Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5702-7. Pre-Gr 3–Joyce’s Academy Award-winning animated short-film-turned-app that celebrates those who care about (and receive nourishment from) books is, ironically, now a picture book. The wonder and mystery inherent in the wordless film and the ability to manipulate the visuals and play the soundtrack on the app’s piano beg the question: Can the book compete? As it turns out, the book has its own rewards. Clarity comes from Joyce’s well-chosen words. In the opening on a New Orleans balcony, readers learn that Morris “loved words…stories…books.” Every day he would “write of his joys and sorrows, of all that he knew and everything that he hoped for.” When an Oz-like storm turns everything topsy-turvy, the melancholy man in the pork-pie hat spots a lady held aloft by a “festive squadron of flying books.” Her gift leads Morris to a book-filled sanctuary set in a landscape staged and lit like a Maxfield Parrish painting. He tends to the volumes, distributing favorites to visitors, whose once-gray bodies blossom with color. Every life and story ends, and those struggling with their own goodbyes (and yearnings about printed books) may find comfort in seeing the fading elder revert to his younger self in order to be transported by the joyful squadron–just as a little girl arrives to choose Morris’s story. The author’s motivations (explained on the flap) will resonate with adults in the reading business. The best part? Lingering quietly while savoring the atmospheric scenes of Joyce’s narrative vignette.

-SLJ, August 2012

"Joyce’s Academy Award-winning animated short-film-turned-app that celebrates those who care about (and receive nourishment from) books is, ironically, now a picture book. The wonder and mystery inherent in the wordless film and the ability to manipulate the visuals and play the soundtrack on the app’s piano beg the question: Can the book compete? As it turns out, the book has its own rewards. Clarity comes from Joyce’s well-chosen words. In the opening on a New Orleans balcony, readers learn that Morris “loved words…stories…books.” Every day he would “write of his joys and sorrows, of all that he knew and everything that he hoped for.” When an Oz-like storm turns everything topsy-turvy, the melancholy man in the pork-pie hat spots a lady held aloft by a “festive squadron of flying books.” Her gift leads Morris to a book-filled sanctuary set in a landscape staged and lit like a Maxfield Parrish painting. He tends to the volumes, distributing favorites to visitors, whose once-gray bodies blossom with color. Every life and story ends, and those struggling with their own goodbyes (and yearnings about printed books) may find comfort in seeing the fading elder revert to his younger self in order to be transported by the joyful squadron–just as a little girl arrives to choose Morris’s story. The author’s motivations (explained on the flap) will resonate with adults in the reading business. The best part? Lingering quietly while savoring the atmospheric scenes of Joyce’s narrative vignette."

-SLJ, August 2012

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