The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore was a short animated film released to critical acclaim in 2010. The gorgeous film comes to life in this digital book app in a way that might even top the film's reception. It's just that amazing, giving the reader an immersive experience that makes other book apps with 'Wow' factor pale by comparison. Developers should be warned that the team at Moonbot Studios has just raised the bar.
The story follows the adventures of Mr. Morris Lessmore, a rather sad little fellow who experiences great tragedy before re-discovering the magical world of books. Every page of his adventure is imminently touchable, even the storm that carries his grayscale world away. The book takes Morris from this drab place of despair to a colorful world made whole by the restorative powers of good storytelling.
The book features amazing interactivity, almost so much that the actual story is a bit lost on the first read. But this isn't much of a criticism for a book app that you will want to re-read over and over ... and over. Several great 'extras' are also hidden within this app's pages, triggered by tapping on the interactive elements. On the page where the words fly off the page (leaving a blank book), you can then doodle anything. After a moment, those doodles will float away, too, just like the letters did when the page was turned.
Another page features a piano keyboard, highlighting the notes to play 'pop, goes the weasel'. And when Morris pours the books bowls of alphabet cereal, you can tap any bowl to enter a page with a large bowl of milk and the full alphabet. Simply tap on any letter to drag the bit of cereal into words (and you can even take a picture of your final creation). The only downside to all this magic is the book's enormous install size, although this is not surprising given the scope of the book's interactivity.
Other pages have draggable elements, like books that can turn the drab townsfolk into characters from classic stories, like Alice in Wonderland, Frankenstein and Treasure Island. There are even books that fly into the library once brought close to the doorway. Nearly every page has fun and 'extra' special surprises. The book's settings are also ample, including the ability to remove the text. I couldn't help but notice the irony of this 'transmedia' experience, though, since this 'book' sometimes makes reading feel like an inferior pastime, despite the story's loving treatment of it overall.
As a digital offering, this book is solidly made for such a complex bit of programming, with easy swipe-style page turning. The littlest fingers can have trouble consistently triggering these page turns, though. We also had some difficulty the first few times we read it, simply because my child and I were so eager to touch everything that we accidentally triggered page turns before the story's narration had finished.
Overall, this book app is really stunning. It takes storytelling to a new level by immersing the reader in its interactive pages. Somehow it manages to both capture the magic of reading a static book while simultaneously taking the reader seamlessly into a modern, digital era. This is a book app for all ages, stages and moods. It would even be an excellent choice for teachers of literature to inspire students to read the classics and begin writing their own timeless tales. My highest recommendation!
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Moonbot Studios LA, LLC
18 - 30 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: Yes
Age: 4 - 12 +
For more info & to download the award-winning animated short, click HERE.
Morris Lessmore loved stories and was also a writer, documenting everything about his life in his own book. One day a terrible storm comes, blowing everything away in a menacing funnel cloud. When the storm is over, nothing in Morris's world has survived. Even the words on the pages of his book have blown away.
He wanders about the bleak landscape with a feeling of despair. Then he meets a most magical woman, flying with a bunch of books on strings like balloons. Morris tosses his book up in the air, hoping that it too can fly. It lands with a thud, but the flying lady has pity on him and tosses him one of her magical, flying books.
This book leads Morris to a library of 'living' books, filled with fluttering pages that chatter aloud with their stories. This world revitalizes Morris and he, in turn, begins to repair the damaged books, lovingly taping ripped pages back together and mending broken bindings. He also shares the healing literature with the townsfolk, brightening everyone's world, one story at a time.
Feeling whole again, Morris begins to write his own book, filling it with his own joys, sorrows and hopes for the future. One day, after many years, Morris comes to the last page, writing his very last line. Now it's time for him to 'move on'. He says a bittersweet farewell to the fanciful library, leaving transformed.
As he flies into the sky with his own flying book bouquet, the library is enlivened to discover that he has left his own delightful story behind for others to read. Soon a little girl arrives to find his book and she, too, is transformed by the reading experience. In this way, Morris never really leaves the magic of the world of books.