Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Author:  William Joyce
Illustrator:  William Joyce and Joe Bluhm
Published:  2012

Inspired an Academy Award-winning short film

Watch the video of my class.  I am reading the book and the children are interacting with the story.
Class Video
I just watched the Monuments Men and it made me think of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.  There is a quotation that stuck with me from the movie.

"You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they'll still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it's as if they never existed. That's what Hitler wants and that's exactly what we are fighting for."

The reason this quotation reminded me of this book is because the main character in the book, Morris Lessmore, loves books and records his joys and sorrows in a book until one day everything Morris knows is "scattered - even the words of his book."  Initially, the pictures in the book were in full color, but when Morris has his words scattered by a storm, reminiscent of the tornado in Kansas in the Wizard of Oz, Morris's life becomes black
and white.  Morris is lost and has lost his color.  He has lost everything he knew and "it's as if [he] never existed."

Fortunately, he decides to look up into the sky at one point and sees a lovely woman being pulled through the sky by a flock of books.  The woman is in full color and she sends Morris her favorite book.  There seems to be life around Morris, as his surroundings now have color, but Morris himself is still black and white.  His new book leads Morris to a room filled with thousands of different stories.  The books opened themselves up to him for him to read.  "The room rustled to life.  And so Morris's life among the books began."

Morris cares for the books and he is once again full of life as he cares for and organizes the books.  He shared his books with others because "Everyone's story matters."  As in the movie, Monuments Men, soldiers risk their lives to save the artwork taken by Hitler for the Fuhrer Museum because art, including books, belong to everyone.  Books have a way of bringing color, joy, sadness to our lives and so many people forget to read.  Just like Morris Lessmore, I enjoy getting lost in books and this book was a gift.

The pictures are mostly full-bleed.  The reader definitely gets pulled into the story.  To make the reader even more a part of this story, there is a companion app that can be used to read the book.  The app was only $0.99 and worth every penny!  I've never seen anything like it.  As Morris is blown from his home by the storm, the app helps the reader see and hear the storm.  Books flutter around your head and words tumble off the pages.  As Morris finds himself again, you transition with him from black and white to full color.  And when you enter the beautiful building with the books, you are transported to the building yourself and you can hear the books talk to you.

This book and app were an amazing experience unlike anything I've seen before!  It is like a trip to Disney World right in your hands.  The experience of reading a book has completely changed!

I can't wait to share this book with my students.  This is a book that will inspire the children to find more like this and to read and discover more books.  I want my students to learn that we bring life to books by writing them, but sometimes, books can bring us to life!

Check this book out from your library!
Learn more about the author, William Joyce and watch a video about this book!
Check out the app!
The character, Morris Lessmore is based on a real person, William C. Morris.  Learn about him.


Kristen Felix said...

I love this book, and my students always seem to connect with it as well! I'm so glad someone else likes it and that you took the time to post about it!

Sya LaManque said...

You have to see the app! It is awesome!