The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore By: William Joyce
I can't remember when I first learned about this beautiful, magical AND important book. I do know that I learned about the short film before I read the book. I was so happy that it won the Academy Award for Animated Short because usually I can't understand any of the films that are nominated each year! There's so much to discuss in this story. Good for all ages. The things I discuss below can be simple or complex, depending on the group. Your discussion can be as simple as the following conversation I had with my daughter after we read the book and while we watched the short film:
Me: Do you see how the people are black and white when they come to him and once they get their books, they turn to colour?
Abby: It's magic, the storm made everything black and white and the books are magic!
Books are most definitely magic. This is what I try to show kids everyday in the library. So if all else fails, this is a celebration of reading, books (real books that fall apart, become weathered and start to smell), LIBRARIES and LIBRARIANS!!!
Mr. Morris Lessmore makes books come alive but here are some other connections you can make and things you can discuss with this work of art:
-The story reminds me of the Wizard of Oz, UP, Mr. Holland's Opus, Our Town (Willy Loman), It's a Wonderful Life, The English Patient - discuss!
-There's a sadness to this story, a nod to times gone by, the good ol' days
-why the repetition of the music 'Pop Goes the Weasel'?
-Use of colour and lack of colour
-why the Tornado?
-why is the setting New Orleans-esque?
-Discuss the name Mr. Morris Lessmore
-What's the importance of Humpty Dumpty as a main character?
-Is his cane and hat important?
-why do we feel the need to tell our story?
-is the girl with the 'balloon books' a ghost? Does Morris Lessmore become a ghost?
-Discuss 'sometimes Morris would become lost in a book and scarcely emerge for days'
-Discuss 'Everyone's story matters'
-Isn't it wonderful that 'the books never changed. Their stories stayed the same.'
Another connection I made is to a Robert Service poem, 'Dolls'. In the book we read, "Then one day he filled the last page in his book. He looked up and said with a bittersweet sigh, 'I guess it's time for me to move on.'" Read the poem, "Dolls" and discuss the similarities and differences of the idea of being 'bittersweet'. How is 'Flying Books' bittersweet? What is bittersweet about Service's poem?
Again, just enjoy this book, let the kids' conversation guide your teaching. They can get so much from it, but the beautiful magic of reading is enough :)