The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

The Fantastic FLying Books174515865The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

William Joyce, author

Joe Bluhm, illustrator

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Fiction, 2012

Suitable for:  Ages 4-8

Themes:  Books, Love, Loss, Healing, Aging

Opening and brief synopsis“Morris Lessmore loved words.  He loved stories.  He loved books.  His life was a book of his own writing, one orderly page after another.  He would open it every morning and write of his joys and sorrows, of all that he knew and everything that he hoped for.”  One day there was a very bad storm that blew so hard that he lost his home and all the books he loved so much.  Not knowing what to do he started walking.  A lady drifted through the sky pulled by a bouquet of books.  The lady tossed down her favorite book and beckoned him to follow her to a strange building that housed books.  But the books in the building weren’t ordinary — they were extraordinary.   Many books required repair.  Morris started to restore and care for the books.  Some times he got lost in the books.  Morris shared the books with people.  And, once again he began to write in his own book.

Why I love this book:  The book is about life experiences — love, loss and healing.  Adults will enjoy this book.  It is a brilliant book that took William Joyce 13 years to write.  The book began as a tribute to a friend, but after Hurricane Katrina devastated  Joyce’s home state, his book was put on hold.  Joyce visited children in shelters and saw firsthand the healing power of books.  So the storm in the book is a combination of Katrina and the cyclone in the Wizard of Oz.   Joe Bluhm’s illustrations are stunning.  Bluhm uses brown hues similar to the opening of Oz, to give the stark effect of the storm in the book.  As Morris wanders, the book is full of colorful and expressive  illustrations.

Resources:  There are many themes that parents  and teachers can explore when reading this book with a children.   Since the idea grew out of Hurricane Katrina and the tragic losses, it would be a good time to discuss with kids what it means to lose everything and how you rebuild lives with the love and help of family and community.   Donated books were an escape for the kids of Katrina.  We’ve once again experienced devastation with Hurricane Isaac.  As a family you may want to donate to a reputable charity.   Another way to help displaced children in your community is to have your kids donate used books to local organizations.  The book also is about imagination and reading.  Be creative and encourage your kids to make a mobile of their favorite book cover titles to hang in their room, similar to the flying woman and the books.

Visit William Joyce at his website.  Joyce first won an Academy Award for his short film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, then turned the film into this imaginative book.  I’ve include a short clip of the video, but the entire film is available on YouTube.   The book also is available as an iPad app.


To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

52 thoughts on “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

  1. Wow, that is an amazing real story and the book is so imaginative, I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for sharing, Pat.


  2. I loved the film and felt it deserved the oscar so would love to read the picture book, now. Would love to know if you feel the book has an scarier moments in it like the film, for younger children? It sounds like a great addition to PPPF and to your resources here of books that heal, Pat.


    • Joanna,
      I believe the book is written with children in mind. It’s 40 pgs. I never occurred to me that it might be scary. I have only watched 15 min of the video. Will need to watch the entire video soon. The book reminded me of Oz in the beginning and it is only a two spreads, and then Morris walking away. I found the book magical. The ending is open for interpretation — some may think it’s sad but I saw it as a positive cycle of life. Expect it to win major awards.


  3. Wow, I saw this when we went to a screening of Oscar-nominated short films last fall. I had no idea it was also a book. Wonderful!


    • Craig, I agree. I saw so many amazing themes/messages. The book is stunning. Just realized that you shared my review on your FB. Thank you so much. Now I have your FB page. I imagine it will walk away with a lot of awards.


  4. So wonderful to have a story that celebrates the healing power of books! I’ve seen the video of this and it’s marvelous, but I have yet to read the actual book. Sounds like a must-read! Thanks for sharing, Pat! 🙂


  5. Thanks for sharing this important film and book. I think I have seen the film with my grandson but will check it out again as it is so important. It seems to have all the universal themes of loss and healing in place. 🙂


  6. Pat…thank you so much for sharing such an important book…I will definitely get a copy of this one because kids who experience devastating loss (such as hurricanes…or the Waldo Canyon Fire right here in Colorado Springs that destroyed over 300 homes) need so much help and parents often don’t know what to do or say or even that the child is having such strong feelings. This was an excellent review and thanks for adding the clip!


    • Vivian, I’m so happy you enjoyed the review and the book. Yes, I think it’s a good book to use with a child, but it also shows life goes on as we see Morris age. There is a magical quality to it. You can watch the entire film on YouTube.


  7. It’s funny how some books are special from the first moment you hear the idea of them, and this is one. Joyce’s story touches places in a child’s heart and soul otherwise unable to be expressed, I think, and adults’. And by knowing these places better, healing is offered, difficult experiences explored, and joy, too. Thank you for sharing this, Pat. It’s a wonderful combination of illustration and empathetic journey.


  8. I love this theme of loss and destruction and how to re-build something deeper, as experience, feeling, emotion are then interwoven in a person’s story. Patricia, you do such a wonderful job bringing these beautiful books to the attention of others.


  9. I was at the bookstore today and flipped through this. The illustrations are really gorgeous! I love that the story is also a short film. I watched the clip you included and am definitely going to watch the full version!


  10. I would like to know how the theme is healing? It is a lovely book to read. I read it to my son,and he just loved it. It’s his new favorite bedtime story!


    • It’s been years since I read the book. What I remember is that I included healing as one of the themes because there was a hurricane/storm that caused loss. And the main charachter’s path to healing occurs when he gets involved in reading, repairing books and finally writing his own story. When he’s done, he moves on. Children need to know they can move forward through loss and tragedy and books can be a friend. Thanks for leaving a comment and visiting!


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