One of the magic parts about BookExpo is the access to gobs and gobs of free books. Every once in a while you pick up a gem, a book that you simply cannot put down and find yourself obsessing over throughout your waking hours.
This year, I found that book, but it wasn’t my obsession. It was IT Boy’s. If you recall from my last post, I got to meet some very cool authors at the Book Blogger Convention. One of them was William Joyce. That’s him, on the left.
I didn’t need to be told twice who Mr. Joyce was. Soccer Girl was a huge fan of Rollie Pollie Ollie, his show that ran on the Disney Channel and is now featured on Disney Jr. The show brought us to his books of Ollie, and then his other titles. Wildly creative, imaginative and silly fun were guaranteed when you picked up one of his books.
I lost track of his work in the years between Girl growing up and Boy hitting the right age to experience his books. It wasn’t until I was watching the Academy Awards this year that I saw he was nominated for Best Animated Short, which he won, to Girl’s and my joy.
Imagine my surprise when he was on the roster of authors attending Book Blogger Con. I was thrilled to have the time to chat with him about what he is working on now.
As you can see from the picture above, he was demoing the app for “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.” The app was based on the short film that won the Oscar. I had already gotten a copy of the book of Morris Lessmore when I checked in for the conference. So, if you are keeping track, the movie spawned the app (which has a version of the movie in it), which then spawned the book.
I asked Mr. Joyce why he was striking out on his own, after having worked with Disney and Pixar among others. He cited the need to “do things without anyone’s permission. No one tells me how to do thing and what not to do. I can move swiftly. The technology changes so fast.” He mentioned that Moonbot has 40 people working there, which is important to him. “When you get big, everything gets slow.”
He was kind enough to sign my book to Boy. Have to say, he has perhaps the most beautiful handwriting I have ever seen.
When I got home, I downloaded the app. Later that week, I “read” the book to Boy. He loved the story and asked for me to read it again (he almost never does that). He started using the app on his own, figuring out all the cool easter eggs to activate.
Inspired in equal measures, by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and a love for books, “Morris Lessmore” is a story of people who devote their lives to books and books who return the favor.
It’s about a man who loves books and stories, and is writing his own story. His own personal library is lost to a wind storm, and he finds the fantastical flying lady who directs him to an abandoned library where he begins to take care of the books.
He looks after the books through the years, until it’s his time to be blown into the wind. Eventually, a young girl finds the library and the story ends as it begins, with the opening of a book. The illustrations are stunning and bring the story to life in a way that few could accomplish.
The irony of reading my son a book on my iPad about how magical and wonderful books are is not lost on me. What also is not lost is the message of ”Morris Lessmore”. Print, digital, e-books, whatever the medium, it’s the story that counts. As Morris himself says, “Everyone’s story matters.”
If you have kids, I urge you to check out the app, which is available now. You’ll love reading this to your kids, that is when they are not using it themselves. The print book releases tomorrow, and would make a great gift for anyone who loves books. Moonbot has one other app (Numberlys) out now which I will be reviewing at a later date.
Disclosure – I received the print version of “The Fantasic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” as part of the BEA Book Blogger Con swag bag. I purchased the iPad version of the book myself. I thank Mr. Joyce for the time he spent answering my questions.