so she sent him her favorite. The book was an amiable fellow,
and urged Morris to follow him.”
(Click to see entire spread)
Here’s a picture book that will most likely not need any help whatsoever getting attention. It’s a book that follows an award-winning animated short film, and I don’t even tend to post about books that are spin-offs of movies, but I like this book. It also made a giant lump form in my throat when I shared it with my own daughters (the film and the book), and then it made me cry my fool head off, despite my best intentions (I don’t think there’s the tiniest thing wrong with crying, but GOD how I hate to do it in front of other people), while they just looked at me funny. But more on that in a minute.
Many of you are familiar, I’m sure, with the short film from William Joyce and Moonbot Studios, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, the 2012 Academy Award winner for Best Animated Short Film. Yep, the book version is out now from Atheneum Books (released in June). Also, I know a book about the love of books came out after the film and the iPad app, but carry on we will. I think this picture book adaptation is lovely.
I really don’t even want to tell you all about the plot, just in case you haven’t experienced the film or book for yourself. I’ll say this: It’s about a man—Morris Lessmore—who loves words and stories and books. In fact, he jots down his life—”his joys and sorrows”—into a book of his own. One day, his life is literally scattered to the winds. (Moonbot Studios will tell you: “Inspired in equal measures by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and a love for books, ‘Morris Lessmore’ is a story of people who devote their lives to books and books who return the favor.”)
He wanders. He sees a woman being lifted in the air by balloons and her own favorite book. He ends up in “an extraordinary building where many books apparently ‘nested.’”
It’s here he begins his life amongst books. “Sometimes Morris would become lost in a book and scarcely emerge for days.” (Many of us know what this is like.)
Morris, most importantly, shares his books with others. And of course time passes. And … well, here’s where I refuse to give away the ending, even if an illustration below hints at it.
Needless to say, this is about more than merely books. This is, at its core, a story about life and loss. And connection. (Connection is key. Stories won’t be remembered, if we book-lovers don’t share them.) Remember the part where I cried on my children? They were moved by the tale, I think, but not as much as their grown-up mama was. In other words, this arguably appeals more to adults, those of us possessing more years on us and, therefore, more accumulated loss.
But, by all means, share it with the short humans in your life anyway. It’s beautifully designed and illustrated (multimedia illustrations) with a clever use of color and a moving use of light. Kirkus has already given this one a starred review: “The unifying metaphor of life as story is a powerful one,” the review states, “as is the theme of the transformative power of books. The emphasis on connecting readers and books and the care of books pays homage to librarianship. Rich in allusions…and brilliant in depicting the passage of time (images conflate times of day, seasons and years), Joyce’s work will inspire contemplation of the power of the book in its many forms.”
I highly recommend finding a copy of the book to take in with your own eyes. For now, I’ll let the art speak for itself here. Enjoy.
(But quickly: While we’re on the subject of William Joyce, my eight-year-old cannot get enough of this series, The Guardians of Childhood. Anyone else read them?)
(Click to enlarge)
by a festive squadron of flying books.”
(Click to enlarge)
THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE. Copyright © 2012 by William Joyce and Moonbot Studios LA, LLC. Published by Atheneum, New York. All illustrations reproduced with permission of the publisher.
Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.
p.s. Here is what Suzy’s reading:
2) I made a countdown-to-Rufus-at-the-Ryman image. I made it tiny, ’cause I’m sure I’m annoying everyone, goin’ on about Rufus all the time.
(That’s the number of days, hours, minutes, and seconds till the show in October, if it’s too tiny for you to read.)
3) My friend with great taste recommended I read this book, pictured here, and I found a copy the next day at a local bookstore. It is, indeed, rather unputdownable, and it makes me grateful for things like … well, gravity.
4) This news (which I briefly mentioned last week) is exciting to me: I was asked to teach a grad course in The University of Tennessee’s School of Information Sciences (my alma mater), a course ALL ABOUT PICTURE BOOKS. I am yelling this with straight-up uncurbed enthusiasm. In fact, I took this same wonderful course myself when I was a grad student years ago. UT is in Knoxville, but the course is taught virtually, so I can do it here from middle Tennessee. It will be next summer. I am crazy excited about this.
5) I was also asked if I’d like to introduce musician and author Colin Meloy at a talk here in Nashville in October. I am fairly certain his talented illustrator wife, Carson Ellis (who visited 7-Imp here last year), will also be speaking. I hope so. I’ll be moderating their panel discussion, I believe. I’m really looking forward to that (and have a galley of his next book to read).
6) I’m not a big-jewelry person (or a big Jewelry Person), by any means. But I bought earrings the other night, just to see if the holes in my ears had grown back. They had not. The earrings have foxes on them. The foxes make me think of good children’s lit stories and fables, as well as Neko Case.
Also, this reminds me, as I’m typing, that my dear, late brother, who was my best friend, used to call me “Jewelry,” instead of “Julie.” And it always used to make me laugh.
7) Last but not least: It’s very un-kick-like that astronaut Sally Ride died this week, but what is wonderful is this illustrated tribute (which the publisher notes was impromptu) from graphic designer and illustrator Micah Player. (This entertaining book, I must add, was his debut picture book in April of this year, one my own daughters very much liked. This little girl here below, paying tribute to Sally, is Lately, Lily.)
What are YOUR kicks this week? Also, do you go berserk from time to time, as evidently Suzy Bishop does? Well, who doesn’t?