Monday, February 25, 2013

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Booklist (July 2012 (Vol. 108, No. 21))

Grades 1-3. 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.

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