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The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore Hardcover – June 19, 2012


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 650L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; First Edition/First Printing edition (June 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442457023
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442457027
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 11.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (224 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

* "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

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.

More About the Author

A true luminary and creative spirit, William Joyce has put his personal stamp on children's media in every direction. His picture books include George Shrinks, Dinosaur Bob 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 his films include Robots and Meet the Robinsons. He's currently co-directing The Guardians for DREAMWORKS, and is producing The Leaf Men, based on his picturebook. He lives in Shreveport, LA, and is the founder of Moonbot Studios.

Customer Reviews

I bought the book and the .99 cent app for an iPad2.
Steakman
It is a wonderful love story about books, and so beautifully illustrated.
Shelly Coulter
I highly, highly recommend this book for all book lovers of any age!
Heidi Grange

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 64 people found the following review helpful By catalog on June 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I work in a public library and we recently received this book. I enjoy reading the children's books before we put them out for the public. This book is wonderful! It actually brought tears to my eyes. If you have a love of books then you should read this. It is my new favorite children's book.
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64 of 71 people found the following review helpful By K. Gilligan on June 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
They say this story is for ages 4 and up, but don't let that keep you from buying it for yourself. As an English major and lover of anything book related, I jumped at the chance to own a copy of this. It's a beautiful story about loving books and how they love you back, as well as the tale of a man's journey to write his own story. I'm thinking about buying a copy for a friend of mine (a fellow English major and soon to be teacher) who just graduated college, as well as a copy for my best friend's young son because the story can be enjoyed by both of them!

The video (and storybook app) appeared before the book, so the description "The book that inspired the Academy Award--winning short film" seems a bit inaccurate--unless it is referring to the storybook app, which is possible. Anyways after I saw the video (It is 15 minutes long and well worth the watching-- for free on Youtube, or if you want to support the creators and encourage them to create more lovely videos and books, you can purchase it on Itunes for only a few dollars*), I knew it would win Best Animated Short Film at the Academy Awards. The video is accompanied by music, but there isn't any dialogue.

The book differs from the film in that there is text for the reader to enjoy. Though it is possible to understand the story by just looking at the beautiful illustrations, the text gives that extra boost that the music from the film had been. The book is also faithful to the film's story, and there was only one part of the video that didn't seem to make it into the book (the scene where Morris Lessmore binds up an old book), but it doesn't take away from one's enjoyment of the story.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Valerie G. Hammond on June 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When we read this book together, my Grandson looked at me and said, "Gram, this is my new favorite book." The author is to be commended for writing such a wonderful story. I thought it might upset my Grandson but he thought about it in a totally different manner and he taught me something about how interpret a story. Again, kudos to this author. Please write some more books for us. Thank you.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Basil on August 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
My wife came home from the bookstore yesterday gushing about this book, saying that she began crying when reading it (and she is not usually the one to cry openly; I am). I was somewhat skeptical, but as I read the book I was quickly converted. This is a remarkable achievement, both as regards the writing and the illustrations. Every aspect of the book conveys the magic, mystery and meaning of reading. The eyes of my children were wide with wonder as we read. I will try to read this book to them as many times as I can. I recommend it for adults as well; it captures the love of books and the joy of a life lived with them better than any other book that I have read.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jason Kirkfield VINE VOICE on July 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
With artwork reminiscent of Pixar films (especially Up, as well as the early Pixar short, Geri's Game), The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a brilliant new release showcasing the work of animation ace William Joyce aided by first-time picture book illustrator Joe Bluhm. I was reminded fondly of Lane Smith's Grandpa Green, which I reviewed last year and which was subsequently included on the New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2011 and later won the Caldecott Honor. Both picture books are exquisitely illustrated, and both are emotionally connective. Like Smith, Joyce has fashioned a story not without sadness which nonetheless celebrates life. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore would be particularly appropriate for children who have lost an older relative, or experienced tragedy of any kind--"every story has its upsets"--but the appeal need not stop there.

Lessmore is a solitary if unlonely lover of words whose life is left in disarray by a storm of Ozian proportions. (The author, a Louisiana native. was inspired by the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.) Lessmore is saved, both literally and figuratively, by books, and takes refuge, and then solace, in a library. His subsequent career as a conservationist returns the favor, and allows the author to demonstrate that there truly is life in stories.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By madtown mommie on September 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is an amazing love story. We see how Morris grows and loves his books all through his life. We also see how much his books care for Morris back. The story and illustrations are witty and whimsical and flow like smooth prose. It's really quite lovely and touching. And if you're a softy like me, you may even have some tears in your eyes at the end. I also like how Morris' life is turned upside down in the beginning and it's his books that bring him back to being grounded. A great story for kids who might need the same grounding. This book transcends itself to reaching out to adults and children alike. That all being said, I would not recommend this to the very young reader/listener. Its story is a bit advanced and does include the full life and passing of Morris himself, but in an indirect way. If you are dealing with death, this would be a good book to include. But I would definitely read it yourself before reading it to a child under the age of 8. My 9 year old daughter loves this book. She is also a lover of books and doesn't get hung up on Morris' life passing, but can appreciate it being a love story about books. Beautiful, beautiful book.
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