The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore
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William Joyce
ISBN 9781442457027
Atheneum, 2012.
5 stars
Keywords: books fairy-tales fantastic-flying-books-morris-lessmore libraries reading william-joyce

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
by William Joyce

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.

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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