The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

Love books? Ever wish they did really come alive? then this may be for you:

Morris slowly walked inside [the building where books nested] and discovered the most mysterious and inviting room he had ever seen. It was filled with the fluttering of countless pages, and Morris could hear the faint chatter of a thousand different stories, as if each book was whispering an invitation to adventure.

Welcome to the world of books! No dry dull whisper-quiet room of mere paper books, these books are alive and will not only come to you but carry you far away into their depths. Morris Lessmore loves books and words and stories; he keeps a journal happily…until one day he is blown away in a storm. Stunned both by the fall and by the separation from his books, he wanders off until his eye is caught by a young woman clinging to the strings of a flock of books, which is carrying her away. She tosses him one of her livelier books, which leads him to the aforementioned building where books nest.

He settles in happily, caring for the books; time passes until Morris has filled his own journal to its last page. He bids the books goodbye, and leaves. They do not remain alone long; one day, a girl enters the building as she discovers the world of books…and we start again.

No ordinary library this. Not surprisingly, the living books can move about as their desires suit:

Morris tried to keep the books in some sort of order, but they always mixed themselves up. The tragedies needed cheering up and would visit with the comedies. The encyclopedias, weary of facts, would relax with the comic books and fictions. All in all it was an agreeable jumble.

As with most picture books, the text itself isn’t what carries the book; it’s the pictures, and perhaps no surprise that this book inspired an Academy Award-winning short film. What with all the books flying about, trotting around, assembling in what appears to be a surgery theater, and just coming to roost on the arm of their Chosen Person, this was meant to be a movie.

This may sound like an odd conclusion to say the least, but while I loved the book and heartily recommend it…I’d guess that it’s best suited for people who already love books. Nothing wrong with that, mind! They’re the ones likeliest to come into a library or bookstore wanting a book in the first place, and for these people, it’s ideal.

Dreamers who wanted to join Ferdinand under the cork tree. People who saw Mirrormask, and love the idea of the library with flying books. Anyone who wishes they had been raised by librarians in a Carnegie library, as in Ellen Klages’ “In the House of Seven Librarians”…get this book. You’ll love it.


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