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The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

( 21 )

Overview

The book that inspired the Academy Award–winning short film, from New York Times bestselling author and beloved visionary William Joyce.

Morris Lessmore loved words.
He loved stories.
He loved books.
But every story has its upsets.
Everything in Morris Lessmore’s life, ...

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Overview

The book that inspired the Academy Award–winning short film, from New York Times bestselling author and beloved visionary William Joyce.

Morris Lessmore loved words.
He loved stories.
He loved books.
But every story has its upsets.
Everything in Morris Lessmore’s life, including his own story, is scattered to the winds.
But the power of story will save the day.
Stunningly brought to life by William Joyce, one of the preeminent creators in children’s literature, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a modern masterpiece, showing that in today’s world of traditional books, eBooks, and apps, it’s story that we truly celebrate—and this story, no matter how you tell it, begs to be read again and again.

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  • The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
    The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

This imaginative adventure inspired an Academy Award-winning animated film and there is no mystery why: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore possesses a magical allure that keeps bringing readers back.

Publishers Weekly
As e-books put pressure on the printed word, picture books that romanticize books proliferate (The Lonely Book, It’s a Book, and Dog Loves Books come to mind). Joyce’s magnificently illustrated book-about-books inspired—yet arrives after—his 2011 animated short film of the same name, which won an Oscar. The unusual sequence of film-to-book (there’s an app, too) suggests that while books are indeed glorious things, what really matters is story. This one follows a dreamy bibliophile named Morris Lessmore, who loses his cherished book collection to a cataclysmic storm that’s half Katrina (Joyce is from Louisiana) and half Wizard of Oz. After meeting a “lovely lady... being pulled along by a festive squadron of flying books,” Morris finds an abandoned library whose books are alive and whose covers beat like the wings of birds. They flutter around him protectively, watch as he starts writing again, and care for him as he ages: “They read themselves to him each night.” Underneath this book-about-books, there’s a deeper story of love, loss, and healing, one that will be appreciated as much (if not more) by adults as by children. Ages 4–8. (June)
From the Publisher
* "Ironically, this book in praise of books first appeared as a much-praised iPad app and Academy Award–winning animated short film.
The story, in a nutshell, concerns the titular book-loving Mr. Morris Lessmore, whose personal library is blown away in a terrible wind but who finds meaning caring for the books he finds in a marvelous library. Filled with both literary (Shakespeare, Humpty-Dumpty) and film references (The Wizard of Oz, The Red Balloon and Buster Keaton), the picture book version of Joyce's story has a quiet contemplative charm that demonstrates the continuing allure of the printed page. Paradoxically, the animated books of the film and app are captured as though in a series of frozen frames. The motif of the bound, printed book is everywhere. Even the furnishings and architectural details of the old-fashioned library in which the books “nest” like flying birds recall the codex. The unifying metaphor of life as story is a powerful one, as is the theme of the transformative power of books. The emphasis on connecting readers and books and the care of books pays homage to librarianship. Rich in allusions (“Less is More”) and brilliant in depicting the passage of time (images conflate times of day, seasons and years), Joyce’s work will inspire contemplation of the power of the book in its many forms.
As triumphant in book form as in animated and interactive ones."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Joyce’s magnificently illustrated book-about-books inspired—yet arrives after—his 2011 animated short film of the same name, which won an Oscar. The unusual sequence of film-to-book (there’s an app, too) suggests that while books are indeed glorious things, what really matters is story. This one follows a dreamy bibliophile named Morris Lessmore, who loses his cherished book collection to a cataclysmic storm that’s half Katrina (Joyce is from Louisiana) and half Wizard of Oz. After meeting a “lovely lady... being pulled along by a festive squadron of flying books,” Morris finds an abandoned library whose books are alive and whose covers beat like the wings of birds. They flutter around him protectively, watch as he starts writing again, and care for him as he ages: “They read themselves to him each night.” Underneath this book-about-books, there’s a deeper story of love, loss, and healing, one that will be appreciated as much (if not more) by adults as by children."
Publishers Weekly

* "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."

Shelf Awareness, starred review

JOYCE, William. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. illus. by author. 56p. S & S/Atheneum. 2012. ebook $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-6489-6; Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5702-7. Pre-Gr 3–Joyce’s Academy Award-winning animated short-film-turned-app that celebrates those who care about (and receive nourishment from) books is, ironically, now a picture book. The wonder and mystery inherent in the wordless film and the ability to manipulate the visuals and play the soundtrack on the app’s piano beg the question: Can the book compete? As it turns out, the book has its own rewards. Clarity comes from Joyce’s well-chosen words. In the opening on a New Orleans balcony, readers learn that Morris “loved words…stories…books.” Every day he would “write of his joys and sorrows, of all that he knew and everything that he hoped for.” When an Oz-like storm turns everything topsy-turvy, the melancholy man in the pork-pie hat spots a lady held aloft by a “festive squadron of flying books.” Her gift leads Morris to a book-filled sanctuary set in a landscape staged and lit like a Maxfield Parrish painting. He tends to the volumes, distributing favorites to visitors, whose once-gray bodies blossom with color. Every life and story ends, and those struggling with their own goodbyes (and yearnings about printed books) may find comfort in seeing the fading elder revert to his younger self in order to be transported by the joyful squadron–just as a little girl arrives to choose Morris’s story. The author’s motivations (explained on the flap) will resonate with adults in the reading business. The best part? Lingering quietly while savoring the atmospheric scenes of Joyce’s narrative vignette.

-SLJ, August 2012

"Joyce’s Academy Award-winning animated short-film-turned-app that celebrates those who care about (and receive nourishment from) books is, ironically, now a picture book. The wonder and mystery inherent in the wordless film and the ability to manipulate the visuals and play the soundtrack on the app’s piano beg the question: Can the book compete? As it turns out, the book has its own rewards. Clarity comes from Joyce’s well-chosen words. In the opening on a New Orleans balcony, readers learn that Morris “loved words…stories…books.” Every day he would “write of his joys and sorrows, of all that he knew and everything that he hoped for.” When an Oz-like storm turns everything topsy-turvy, the melancholy man in the pork-pie hat spots a lady held aloft by a “festive squadron of flying books.” Her gift leads Morris to a book-filled sanctuary set in a landscape staged and lit like a Maxfield Parrish painting. He tends to the volumes, distributing favorites to visitors, whose once-gray bodies blossom with color. Every life and story ends, and those struggling with their own goodbyes (and yearnings about printed books) may find comfort in seeing the fading elder revert to his younger self in order to be transported by the joyful squadron–just as a little girl arrives to choose Morris’s story. The author’s motivations (explained on the flap) will resonate with adults in the reading business. The best part? Lingering quietly while savoring the atmospheric scenes of Joyce’s narrative vignette."

-SLJ, August 2012

School Library Journal
Pre-Gr 3—Joyce's Academy Award-winning animated short-film-turned-app that celebrates those who care about (and receive nourishment from) books is, ironically, now a picture book. The wonder and mystery inherent in the wordless film and the ability to manipulate the visuals and play the soundtrack on the app's piano beg the question: Can the book compete? As it turns out, the book has its own rewards. Clarity comes from Joyce's well-chosen words. In the opening on a New Orleans balcony, readers learn that Morris "loved words…stories…books." Every day he would "write of his joys and sorrows, of all that he knew and everything that he hoped for." When an Oz-like storm turns everything topsy-turvy, the melancholy man in the pork-pie hat spots a lady held aloft by a "festive squadron of flying books." Her gift leads Morris to a book-filled sanctuary set in a landscape staged and lit like a Maxfield Parrish painting. He tends to the volumes, distributing favorites to visitors, whose once-gray bodies blossom with color. Every life and story ends, and those struggling with their own goodbyes (and yearnings about printed books) may find comfort in seeing the fading elder revert to his younger self in order to be transported by the joyful squadron-just as a little girl arrives to choose Morris's story. The author's motivations (explained on the flap) will resonate with adults in the reading business. The best part? Lingering quietly while savoring the atmospheric scenes of Joyce's narrative vignette.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Morris Lessmore's story has gone through several incarnations, from an Oscar-winning short film to an app for iPhone and, now, a picture book. The wide, horizontal-format book has been lavishly produced with gold lettering on the cover—clearly, it's an "important" book, but, for those who haven't seen its predecessors, it must stand alone. Morris is writing a memoir on his balcony when a hurricane whirls in, destroying his house and scattering his books. (As in Wizard of Oz, the desolation is pictured in black-and-white.) Morris is redeemed by a full-color vision—a pretty woman wafted through the air by flying books. Her gift of a book leads Morris to a deserted library, where he takes up residence for the rest of his life, repairing, reading, interacting with books that move on springy legs and flutter their pages like birds. He gives books to black-and-white people, who depart in color. Morris continues writing; with the passage of time, he grows old, dies, and floats away rejuvenated. His book of memoirs flies to a small girl, who sits reading it, mesmerized. Lessmore's appearance, based on Buster Keaton, enhances the book's gentle, retro atmosphere. Joyce (it's unclear what contribution Bluhm has made) is especially adept at using light and shadow and incorporating letter shapes into both text and pictures. His sequence of Lessmore's aging takes viewers through four seasons, each with its own colors, details, and times of day, from morning to twilight, spring to winter; the many literary references include an engraving and French text from Verne's From the Earth to the Moon. In contrast, the app uses music and the latest digital technology to take kids on interactive journeys, thus looking to the future of picture books, which will probably be quite different from Morris's beloved printed volumes. Nostalgic references and details may make his story more meaningful for book-loving adults than for children.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442457027
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 6/19/2012
  • Pages: 56
  • Sales rank: 16,992
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD650L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 11.80 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Meet the Author

William Joyce

William Joyce has put his personal stamp on all types of children’s media. His books include the New York Times bestseller The Man in the Moon, Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King, E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core!, and Santa Calls. He’s won three Emmy awards for his Rolie Polie Olie animated series, developed character concepts for Toy Story and A Bug’s Life, and made films including Robots and Meet the Robinsons. He’s currently executive producer of the DreamWorks Animation release of Rise of the Guardians (Fall 2012) inspired by his new series. He is also producing The Leaf Men, based on his book The Leaf Men. And his star continues to rise—he won an Academy Award for his innovative short film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. He lives in Shreveport, LA, and is the founder of Moonbot Studios.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 21 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2012

    Why aren't there 6 stars?

    This book is beautiful! The story is heartwarming. Anyone who loves books will love this one!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A great story framing the importance and joy of reading

    Morris Lessmore loved to write in his journal and read his books. Then one day, a storm came destroying his house and his precious books. Wandering alone, Morris was upset and lonely, until one day he sees a woman flying by, surrounded with books. Noticing how sad Morris is without his books, she gives him her favorite, a walking, talking, and flying tale.
    Back surrounded by the books that he loves and his journal, Morris listens and reads all of their tales. He continues to write in his journal until he is old and grey and his book is finished. With his own story complete, he leaves his friends and his own story behind, for someone new to discover.
    Delightful and well-illustrated, the love Morris has of books and the great companions they make shines through. Although the writing might be hard to follow for younger readers, the creativity behind the storyline heralds the importance and timelessness of great literature.
    *The Inspiration for the Academy Award winning short film by the same title. Recommended for readers age 4 -8.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2012

    Best book ever

    This story really touches your heart. Its how books are supposed to feel. They are suppose to fly and jump around you. This story is worth it but after you are done with the book, look up The Fantastic Flying books of Mr. Morris Lessmore 2011. Its better than the book. Both are amazing!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2012

    For Booklovers

    Accompanied by brilliant illustratiions this story touches anyone who has a love of books. Some stories strike cords in children and adults, this is a wonderful picture book for discussion about why books can be so powerful, entertaining, and important in our lives. Late 2nd grade to early 4th grade
    is where it might best be used.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2012

    It is awesome to lond and enjoy books. I believe the the age rec

    It is awesome to lond and enjoy books. I believe the the age recommendation is a bit off. During the summer of 2012 this book was on my son's Kindergarten summer reading list. Other parents and I found this book to be painfully boring for the kids. My eight year old niece was not fan either. Personally, I thought the story was fairly good, but I am not the intended audience. 

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 14, 2012

    Good story! Enjoyed it!

    Good story! Enjoyed it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2012

    This is a beautiful book about loving books! I will be using thi

    This is a beautiful book about loving books! I will be using this story in my classroom several times this year. The illustrations are very detailed and humorous.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2012

    This book

    I got a sample of this book and I loved it! I just wish my mom would buy it for me!

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 30, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I read this story over and over again and the more I read it, th

    I read this story over and over again and the more I read it, the richer it became. It’s about words, it’s about books, it’s about stories and order and life and ….I could go on but I think everyone who reads it will find their own meaning. Morris loved stories and books, writing his own joys and sorrows down each morning. His hopes and dreams, all written in print as he loved words and order. As life would have it, a storm blew in and upset his world and he finds himself in world like Oz. The illustrations do a superb job with this transformation with the color and the details. A woman floats by in a festival of books and hands him her favorite book, he follows her to the library where he is totally amazed at this building. The room is in dismay as he hears the book calling to him as they float around the room. The books all need assistance and Morris tries to help them. He gets wrapped up inside their pages, those wonderful stories captive him so Morris decides to share the stories with the people of the town. It’s a wonderful tale of Morris and his life; it’s a book you just want to share with everyone. The illustrations fit perfectly with the book and the script is written on a tan paper which I thought added to the warmth of the story.
    "“Everyone’s story matters,” said Morris. And all the books agreed."

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  • Posted September 23, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Review by Young Mensan Aubrey L, Age 6, Greater New York Mensa

    Review by Young Mensan Aubrey L, Age 6, Greater New York Mensa

    Everyone will love this book!!
    This book is about a man or teenage boy who really loves his books. It says that every book has its upsets, and I think it does. The book is saying that every book is special and that you can write your own book and that’s what books are.
    The man got upset when his book got blown around and everything he knew got scattered. He walked and walked and looked up instead of down and saw this lady and the book that the lady gave him showed him to a library. He took care of the books and when he got older the books took care of him. When he got older he left the library. When he goes out he forgets his book but he meant to because he wants somebody to find out about it. Then the books saw a girl in the doorway. She looked at all the books and Morris’ book and she read it and that’s how the story ends as it began.
    My favorite parts of this book are when he sees the lady drifting through the sky with a bunch of books, and the end it starts over again because you can get another book and know about it.

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  • Posted May 1, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    A good and cute read. Kind of sweet in a way.

    This was a good and cute read. Kind of sweet in a way. The pictures are the best part as the story. But with the pictures, take your time with those. Its drawn really good. Pretty good read. I wanted to read this because well, it had to do with books and because of the title.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2013

    FLYING BOOKS

    I LOVE THIS BOOK-IT WAS FUNNY, PLAYFUL AND SPARKED MY IMAGINATION. THE PICTURES ARE GREAT. I ALSO LIKE THE IDEA THAT WE BECOME THE BOOKS WE READ. BOOKS CAN TOUCH PEOPLES LIVES IN WAYS THAT NOTHING ELSE CAN. I ALSO LOVE THAT ON MY NOOK I HAVE A CHOICE OF HOW TO ENJOY THIS BOOK; I CAN JUST READ IT MYSELF,THE BOOK CAN READ TO ME'AND I CAN RECORD MY VOICE READING THIS BOOK AND SAVE THE RECORDING TO PLAY BACK LATER. A MUST READ!

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  • Posted July 30, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A Great Book!

    Enjoyable read to accompany the great short film! 5 Stars!

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  • Posted May 8, 2013

    I cried through most of this book. From my earliest recollectio

    I cried through most of this book. From my earliest recollection, sitting on my father's lap while he read The Saturday Evening Post and I could pick out words I recognized, until today I still find magic in reading. When I was a child if my mother couldn't find me by hollering out the front door, she invariably called the library and Miss Harding would say, "She's here sitting on the floor, reading."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2013

    Hi

    Hah! MORrIS LESSmore! Don't you get it! Haha! This author is totally awesomely creative! His name sounds like more is less! With a more at the end but thats not that important. Cute book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2013

    Fantastic

    Fantastic book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    Great for those creative thinkers, brings imagination to life...

    My almost 10 year old very much enjoyed it, has read it a few times, its not too lengthy, but enough to read in an evening before bed. From a parents perspective, pages are great, illustrated well, and its an APPRORIATE book, unlike many where the choice of language or slang is questionable! Can't go wrong with this one, wouls also make a great gift.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Powerful and sensitive

    The expression of love for words ... and books by Mr. Morris Lessmore was heartfelt and touch my life personally. After the loss of many of our beloved books and most everything in our life in the Nashville flood of 2010, it reminded me of the great opportunity we have to move into new avenues and adventures, after loss.

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  • Posted December 19, 2012

    This a beautiful book to be shared by the whole family. Willia

    This a beautiful book to be shared by the whole family. William Joyce is a creative genius and inspiration to readers of all ages. Life does go on even in seemingly unbearable circumstances, if we have the heart and imagination to live it.


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  • Posted December 12, 2012

    Stunning. (At least the film was!)

    Stunning. (At least the film was!)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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