The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
By William JoyceAtheneum Books for Young Readers, 2012. 1 vol. (unpaged)Picture Book
Summary:Morris Lessmore loves books and words, and he's even working on writing his own book, but when a terrible storm comes, it blows everything away--even the words of Morris's book. Bereft of the words, Morris begins to wander, and happens to see a lady being pulled through the sky by a group of books. When she sends one of her books to him, the book leads Morris to a book nest. Morris settles in among the books, organizing and repairing, and mostly importantly, reading them and sharing them with others. And at night, Morris begins again to write his own book, a project that takes years. Upon completion, Morris says that it is time for him to leave, which makes the books sad, but they notice that he leaves his own book behind, with "all of his joys and sorrows, all that he knew and everything that he hoped for"...and then a girl comes and begins to read Morris's story.
Review:This beautiful book is the inspiration for the short film of the same name, which you should go watch immediately if you haven't already. The book and the film are both...fantastic. Joyce takes readers through the despair of loss, as the storm rips all of the color out of life, through the healing process of books, which bring that color and hope back. For me, this sums up why I love books and why I became a librarian--because I believe in the healing power of books. I believe books and stories and words are one of the necessities of life. Morris's journey is poignant and beautiful, and this book is just amazing. The words and the pictures just pull you in, wrap around your heart, and pull you toward a feeling of hope, even through the sad moments, showing readers exactly what a good book does for you. (On a personal side note, one of the first books that ever took me a on healing journey was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I first read it shortly after my parents' less-than-amicable divorce, and reading that book was a cathartic experience for me. I could read the book, cry my eyes out as Ponyboy's story unfolded, and then return to reality with enough strength to keep going....and I returned to The Outsiders many times over the years as I need that experience again.)
I love the little details of this book, from the way that Humpty Dumpty (the book that leads Morris to the book nest) is dressed similarly to Morris and his (Humpty Dumpty's) expressions tell a story of their own. I love the "medical" scene as Morris is repairing a book, complete with a book as a heart monitor. I love the books sunbathing and having a picnic as Morris writes his book, and walking with canes like Morris as they age. And I love, love, love how, as Morris has aged, the books take care of him and even "read themselves to him each night." There are so many fantastic details to go with a beautiful story.
I can't say enough good things about this book...so I'll just say that this might have just moved into the #2 spot on my list of favorite picture books (with Where the Wild Things Are being #1).
5 stars. Clean read.