Sometimes, especially in this era of information glut, it’s easy to forget that there are real people behind the books or even pieces of writing that we read without a second thought — or worse, that we don’t read at all. The truth is, writing from the heart can be a terrifying thing since you are putting a part of yourself out there, to be judged by everyone and anyone, and sadly, as a result, not many people do — write thoughtfully, that is.
Books are inanimate objects, but they come alive when we read them because they’re someone else’s thoughts, ideas and imagination painstakingly put into words. When you think about it, isn’t it quite incredible that a small part of who a person is can live on long after they’re gone, via their words and stories?
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is thus a timely paean to books that will be etched in your memory for a long time, particularly if you are a bibliophile.
The protagonist in this book, Morris Lessmore, loves words, stories and books, and would faithfully write in his journal every morning. But one day, a very powerful wind throws everything into chaos, and scatters all that is dear to him, including the words in his book. Just when he is feeling completely lost, however, he meets a special stranger who directs him to an incredible house filled with books that fly — and ‘talk’, walk and dance! What ensues, then, is an incredibly touching tale about the special relationship between Morris and the books that grow to become his faithful friends.
The irony is, this book began life in 2011 as a short animated film that later won an Academy Award, before it was made into a picture book. While the book is very faithful to the film, the film has music but no words, so the words in the book help to plug in the gaps and ensure that the nuances of the film are not lost in misinterpretation.
My children watched the film too, and even though the themes will be better appreciated by slightly older kids — it is pegged for above-four-year-olds, after all — it made such a big impression on my 22-month-old that she fell in love with the book immediately after. Of course, a lot of this has to do with the warm, gorgeous artwork — straight out of the animation — that vividly brings the story to life, even though she probably can’t understand everything yet.
I cannot recommend watching the film — linked below — highly enough, even if you decide not to check out the book.
p.s. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, but I watched the film after reading the book and it made me tear…