I want to introduce you to a new friend of mine. Actually, formally introduce you that is, since I wrote about him in a letter to a friend in my last post. His name is Morris, of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. He stars in the Academy Award winning Best Animated Short Film, as well as the book and TWO different apps. Allow me the privilege of sharing how we met and some of the wonderful things he has to offer.
Gifts come in all kinds of packages. I have learned this from the wise woman Ann Voskamp. One of the most surprising gifts I received in December was not related to Christmas. I was clicking around blogs one day and stumbled on a woman raving about William Joyce’s latest children’s book. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Joyce for a long time, because every one of his illustrations are frameable and his writing hits the mark every time. But the incredibly rich and beautiful colors weren’t what captivated me. apparently, this was a story about the story…hmmm, yes. I most definitely would need to track down this jewel.
The next day I was flying to Texas to fetch our college girl. I walked into a bookstore in the Dallas airport and there he sat, like he’d been waiting for me. With the first turn of a page, I realized this was an uncommon book. In Mr. Morris Lessmore I recognized a kindred spirit.
Morris’s life has been blown away. His words literally scattered, so after wandering around for a while he is given the chance to open a new book and begin writing a new story with his life. He is led to something far more special and spectacular than what he’d known before. The genius of this story is that although it is written for children, it has such universal appeal, that adults will be drawn to it as well. It is the type of book you would not mind reading over and over to your children or students. As the website morrislessmore.com describes, it is “a poignant, humorous allegory about the curative powers of story.”
The holidays and our youngest’s tonsillectomy allowed me some time for research and I quickly discovered several more layers of gifting that accompanies this story. First, this story has resonated with many. The numerous reviews and blogs I read echoed my initial impressions. This story has the ability to speak truth regardless of age or background. We all understand that “…every story has its upsets.” There are times in life when we have to wander around until our new story finds us.
Secondly, although I discovered the book first, in reality the film was produced first by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg from Moonbot Studios, in the winter of 2011, going on to win 14 different awards. This includes, of course, the big kahuna, Mr. Oscar. The book was published in February of 2012. The apps called IMAG.N.O.TRON and Morris Lessmore, came later last year. The apps make a magical book even more so. And these guys? True genius of the imagination. The whole story is made all the more interesting given the fact that Joyce is from Louisiana and began the creative process for this story soon after Hurricane Katrina. Ever been to the French Quarter? Be sure to look for its flavor at the beginning.
After watching the film, downloading the apps and reading the book numerous times, it was a no-brainer that I would incorporate this book into my job as a school speech-language pathologist. It was a magical week for me to see children become literally captivated by this story. I was able to address articulation and language goals beautifully as we read the book along with the iPad app. The simplicity of this story makes it easily adaptable for preschool all the way to high school. (For you SLPs, think sequencing, prediction, vocabulary, listening for detail and comprehension just to get started!) I plan to work out several extension lessons beyond the first reading.
Books have always meant something special to me. Although I’ve read my share of books an my iPad, its saddens me to even think about the possible extinction of the hard copy book. Perhaps it won’t have to eventually be either or, but rather both. In this instance Joyce and Brandenburg were able to pull off a marriage between print and technology unlike any I’ve seen. (The Wall Street Journal had a fascinating article on this subject recently)
Well, the treats on me, if you hadn’t met Morris yet. You simply must take 15 minutes and watch the film. If you know a child, or ever were one yourself, go buy the book. You won’t be sorry. I leave you with a bit of Lessmore wisdom suitable for The Story Place:
“Everyone’s story matters.”