A picture book for writers: ‘The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore’Posted: July 11, 2013
My son received The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore (along with a pile of other picture books) on his birthday. Once we’d read the superhero books to death, we gave this one a go—and we love it.
I’ve never reviewed a picture book here before, and I probably never will again. But this one struck a chord with me, because it’s a book for and about readers and writers. The story is pretty straightforward. Morris Lessmore writes in his book about “all that he knew and everything that he hoped for”. Then he suffers a disaster, a hurricane. Everything is scattered, even the words in his book.
At this point, the world is depicted in black and white. So is Morris. The next bit of colour we see is a lady flying through the sky, being pulled along by a squadron of flying books. Morris is sad that his book can’t fly (a metaphor for the muse, anyone?) and she sends him her favourite book, to help him out.
When the book touches him, Morris suddenly appears in colour again. It leads him to a library of flying books, which he then cares for until he’s old and grey; and every night, he writes in his book again. At the end of the book, when he flies away with his own squadron of flying books, presumably heading off to book heaven, his book is left behind—and now it can fly too.
I Googled The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore while writing this blog post; apparently it’s based on a short film that was, in turn, based on a story. (That explains the gorgeous animation-style illustrations.) My favourite part* is that everyone Morris loans books to at the library is black and white, like he was when he arrived, and when he hands them the books their colours are restored too. So not only is he getting back in touch with his own muse by writing, but he’s sharing that joy with others who have been turned grey by the disaster.
It’s such a sweet little metaphor for the restorative power of stories.
* My son’s favourite part is the flying books. Because FLYING BOOKS!
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