When it was announced on Sunday, February 26, 2012, that The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore had won the Oscar for Short Film (Animated), I did a little jig of joy. For every class in subsequent weeks the video was shown, each time the students were silent, mesmerized. Their comments and questions varied according to their ages. And I...every time I watched, it was like seeing it for the very first time.
William Joyce, in this volume, clearly demonstrates his skills as an extraordinary author and illustrator.
Morris Lessmore loved words.
He loved stories.
He loved books.
Each day begins with Morris entering the story of his life in a very special book. But the world in which Morris resides is about to go topsy-turvy. A tremendous wind storm blows Morris, his books, even the words on the pages in his personal book, to another place.
His world, as he knew it, is gone so, much like readers beginning a new book, not sure what to expect, Morris begins to meander along a road, destination unknown. Looking skyward Morris is amazed to see a beautiful woman floating by, kept airborne by a bundle of flying books attached to red ribbons grasped in her hand. The wise lady sends Morris her favorite, the happy fellow, on legs, with Humpty Dumpty on his pages, leads Morris to a marvelous structure with books flying through the doorway.
Within the room are more books than Morris has ever seen, pages moving, whispering words he's never heard, beckoning him to discover what can be found within. So begins Morris's life with the books, he giving them the upmost care. Like every reader knows, Morris, too, would lose days caught up in a good story.
What pleases Morris most is to share the books, with their blessing, with others. At days end with all the books settled for the night, Morris is seen writing in his very special book. Time passes, season after season, years upon years.
In his old age the books are now taking care of Morris, reading their stories to him at night. Filling the last page of his book one day, Morris realizes his story is complete. Like the lady before him, Morris lifts skyward holding the red ribbons attached to books whose pages move as if wings.
It is in the silence of Morris's leaving the books realize Mr. Lessmore has left an object of power behind. Soon another will follow in the "heartsteps" of Morris using his story as a guide. For as Morris stated earlier:
"Everyone's story matters."
There is a richness one feels when holding and reading this creation of William Joyce. All the pages are heavy with endpapers done in a deep red and black picturing Mr. Lessmore's hat and book in a repeated diamond pattern. Joyce varies his illustrations; some covering two pages, others a single page, all bleeding to the edge except for the occasional insets.
Full color is used except when Mr. Morris Lessmore has lost his book. It is in the finding of a story color is restored. The renderings of the passage of time, the seasons, are breathtaking. Of note are the fascinating details of the building housing the books; a homage to the writing of story and the printed page.
As beautiful as the film is, so too, is this title. Joyce's narrative is the voice of a master storyteller weaving words that will wrap around your heart like a warming blanket. Readers will come to love Mr. Morris Lessmore and the world of his fantastic flying books.
A picture may be worth a thousand words but words once spoken or written create a picture forever painted on our hearts. This is the nature of story, the gathering of words, to be printed on the pages of a book, a book to treasure like The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. An author's dedication says much about who they are. Please read William Joyce's dedication page found in the back of this volume.
For more information about this title follow a link to The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. For additional insight into William Joyce's other titles and projects follow the link embedded in his name above.