Reviews for Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore


Booklist Reviews 2012 July #1
First it was an Academy Award-winning animated short. Then it was an intuitively interactive iPad story app. And now it's a regular old book, which is fitting given that the story is all about the lasting power of books to transport and nourish the soul. Our hero is a bibliophile modeled after legendary children's-literature advocate William Morris (in spirit) and Buster Keaton (in looks), whose gray-colored world is colorized when he sees a woman fly past, pulled by "a festive squadron of flying books." One such book leads him to take custodianship of a house full of rambunctious stories. As the years pass, he writes one of his own, which in turn inspires a young girl after he is gone. The message-heavy narrative is lifted by Joyce's superb artwork, presenting nostalgic, picket-fence scenes with a modeled, dimensional feel built on the animation but given a lustrous polish for the printed page. Perhaps most fascinating, the movie, app, and book taken together present an entirely kid-friendly opportunity to talk about the interplay between content and format. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The movie and app iterations of this work have attracted gobs of acclaim and attention for the book to capitalize on. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
In this affectionate love letter, a lady propelled by "flying books" tosses one to Morris Lessmore, which leads him to an enticing library. Years pass as he takes care of the animated volumes; finally the aged Morris flies away on the wings of books, his place taken by a girl. The multimedia illustrations are rendered in Joyce's Hopperesque style and luminescent colors.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 May #2
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. (Picture book. 5-10) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 May #1

As e-books put pressure on the printed word, picture books that romanticize books proliferate (The Lonely Book, It's a Book, and Dog Loves Books come to mind). 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. Ages 4-8. (June)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 August

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.--Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

[Page 78]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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