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This is a unique book. It is an imaginative fantasy, that becomes a story about growing old and dying, without ever saying the word. It is book about life and memory and the words someone can leave behind that can touch a heart forever. It presents as a picture book, but it is a book that adults who are dealing with loss would also love to receive as a gift.
Here we meet Morris Lessmore, a man who loves words and books. As he reads book after book, he is also spending time writing about his own life. But, as the book says, “Every Story has its upsets.”
In this case, a huge storm that destroys all his books and his home leaving Morris searching for a new life. Eventually a young lady (or is it an angel) floats by carried along by a squadron of flying books. She leaves her favorite book for Morris, who follows her to a large building full of flying, talking and intelligent books.
Morris spends the rest of his life talking to and reading all the flying books, always in the company of the book given to him by the young woman. We spend those years with Morris, reading and writing, talking to books, fixing books and observing books as season after season passes and Morris grows old. Morris shares books with everyone who comes by, giving each person a different book because Morris believes ‘Everyone’s Story Matters’.
When Morris realizes he has written the end of his book, he knows it is his time to leave. He says goodbye to the books telling them he will carry them all in his heart. In an exquisitely touching scene, Morris leaves, flying away, and as he is carried away into the sky by the flying books, he turns back into the young man he was before.
The books are sad, until they find the book Morris has written about his life. They knew everything he wanted to tell them was right there. I think this book is suitable for kids from 7 years old to adults. If you know a child who has had a grandparent die recently, you will have to make a judgement call to know if this book is right for them, or is right at this time in their life.
The illustrations by the author, William Joyce and with Joe Bluhm, make this life allegory, both real and amusing using a color palette that makes many of the pages look like antique photos. We bounce from realism to fantasy, from a real life to the insides of books themselves.
It is a masterful, keepsake book published by Moonbot, an imprint of Athemeum Books. You will find The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore in sophisticated bookstores, through Bookshop.org that supports local bookstores and on Amazon on the affiliate link I have placed above.