The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

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We have all read books that were turned into movies and some even into Broadway shows.  But what I have never encountered is a book that was originally an app, then a short film and now a children’s book.

“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” by William Joyce is a recently published children’s book for ages 4-8.  In his review in Sunday’s NYT, Nathan Heller traced the history of this story.    As an app and an Oscar winning best animated short film, it received good notices.  But , according to Heller, although the book is well illustrated, “its wildest elements haven’t survived the journey to the page.”

The story is a parable that has at its center the bibliophile Morris Lessmore.  A storm sweeps through his town and destroys all the books.  But Morris is reunited with his books through the intervention of a beautiful young woman.  The writer says reviewer Heller has written “elegant” prose that reads like a classic.  And yet, because the app and the film had a “dreamy creativity” that the book lacks, Heller believes that that this book points to a belief that storytelling needs a “broader canvas than the hallowed space within the library doors.”  I hope he is wrong.

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