Before (and after) I’d read it, I knew I had to get ‘The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lesmore’ for my three year old grandson.
Books are expensive and the library is a great resource for those of us who gulp books down like peanuts. But sometimes we fall in love and want to take our beloveds home with us for keeps. One day I was checking out a book in a bookshop window and fell in love with Joe Bluhm’s illustration. That’s unusual in itself because I am a word person. My sons who are very into music poke fun at me about my preference for lyrics. But that day there was an illustration which was any writer’s ultimate fantasy. A man sits in a comfy chair writing, and he’s surrounded by books (all right some of them are flying).
That’s how the story begins. Morris Lessmore loves words, stories and books. He’s sitting in a comfy chair writing his story into a journal. ‘But…One day the sky darkened’, and everything that Morris Lessmore loves including the words of his book is scattered to the winds.
‘The winds blew and blew…till everything Morris knew was scattered – even the words of his book.’ Morris wanders aimlessly through a shattered city. Everything around him is as grey as he feels, until he happens to meet a ‘lovely lady…being pulled along by a festive squadron of flying books.’ She’s in colour, Morris is still grey. He can’t get his own book to fly so the lovely lady sends him her favourite story . It’s Humpty Dumpty, ‘an amiable fellow [who] urged Morris to follow him’ to a ‘most mysterious and inviting room…filled with the fluttering of countless pages.’ He could ‘hear the faint chatter of a thousand different stories…’
It’s a library and Morris becomes its custodian. He keeps the books in order, repairs them and reads them. In turn they inform him with facts or cheer him up when he needs it. ‘Sometimes Morris would become lost in a book and scarcely emerge for days.’ It’s a symbiotic relationship. Morris shares his friends with others hoping to pass on the legacy.
As I’ve said, before (and after) I’d read it, I knew I had to get ‘The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lesmore’ for my three year old grandson. I think I might buy a copy for myself. As an adult I appreciate Libraries and librarians (my sister is one). They and I love stories and we cherish our hard copy books. They and I would do whatever we could to preserve them for ourselves and for future generations even if it seems to me that future generations might not want them, they will be too bonded to their E-readers and iPads. I don’t think there will be room for both in that bleak future.
A last but definitely not least, mention of the illustrator. According to the blurb on the back cover, it’s Joe Bluhm’s ‘picture book’ debut’. It says that he is an award winning illustrator, designer and caricaturist in his own right and has published two art books. I think that Bluhm’s illustrations make ‘The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lesmore ‘ a feast for both the eyes and the imagination. And I don’t think you need the excuse of having a small child to buy it for. Get it for yourself.
Here is Joe Bluhm’s blog address.
Here are some more children’s authors that you your toddlers will love: Nick Bland, Hazel Edwards, Mem Fox