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Apr 9, 2013 — by Kara Schroader
Everyone warned William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg they were doing things in the wrong order—the book should be created first, then the animated short film, and then maybe an iPad app. It’s a good thing they didn’t listen. As originally planned, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore appeared in two different screen adaptations before making the transition into print last summer. Since then, the animated short-film, the app, and the picture book have received admirable reviews.
Inspired by Hurricane Katrina, The Wizard of Oz, and a love for books, “Morris Lessmore” is a story of people devoting their lives to books and books who return the favor. The print-edition of the story is a rapidly paced, beautifully illustrated tale for adult readers and young readers alike. Morris Lessmore, a young book lover with a snazzy brown suit spends his days on a porch piled high with books. In his free time, Morris records his own private thoughts into a journal. When an unexpected storm sweeps through his town destroying homes and ruining Morris’ beloved books and journal, the world as he knows it is deranged.
Last year, The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. The remarkable 15-minute film, available on YouTube, is comprised of the perfect combination of music and imagery to tell the story of a man finding his purpose among the pages of books. Containing no dialogue at all, this movie leaves its viewers with a newfound respect for books and libraries.
The app, developed by Joyce’s own Moonbot Studios, is a hybrid of the short film and the picture book. Much like the film, music and animation propel the story and provide a “cinematic flow”. Keeping true to the picture book, the app also includes a textual story to follow and still images to view. This combination, with the addition of evenly-paced narration and numerous interactive features, sets the app version of the story apart from its companions.
Whether in the form of short film, iPad app, or picture book, the story of Morris Lessmore will captivate and entertain individuals of all ages while instilling a sense of gratitude for the written word. Allow yourself or children you know to enjoy this fascinating story of a young book lover in its various forms of film, app, and book.