Wednesday, July 11, 2012

William Joyce – creator of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Today, I have the honor of sharing an interview with William Joyce, the amazing creator of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. Joyce is an author, illustrator and animator of many books and films, most recently winning an Academy Award for the short film of Morris Lessmore. The app, based on the same story, has been one of my favorites for the way it blends a touching story with incredible combination of animation, interaction and narration.

Come listen to this interview on Katie Davis’s podcast, Brain Burps About Books. You can listen for free on iTunes or on Katie’s site. It was an amazing experience getting to sit down with Bill Joyce - I've admired his work for so long.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore truly opened my eyes to what a book app can do (see my review of the app over at SLJ's Touch and Go). Above all else, the story resonates with children – it’s a story about the power of books and stories to sustain us, to fill our lives and imaginations. But it’s also an incredible combination of narrated text (beautifully written and read), animation that leaps off the screen, and interactive features that surprise readers as they are pulled into elements of the story.

If you’re fascinated by books, stories and how the new medium of the iPad will affect the way we share stories with our children, please take some time to listen to this interview. Bill Joyce is a visionary, in my mind. He sees that stories are really what we fill our lives, but that technology can be used in so many different ways to bring these stories to life.

As Bill said in this interview, halfway through the production of the short film for Morris Lessmore, the iPad was released. He and his coproducer realized that this is going to change everything. They wanted to see how this technology can be used to tell a story, to pull you into an immersive story world. The iPad can complement books, helping publishing, not hurting it.

Each way of reading The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a different experience. The short film is completely silent, pulling the audience in but demanding that they fill in the story’s narrative plot themselves. The app uses much of the animation from the film, but adds the narration as well as letting the reader control the pacing of the story. The picture book – just released last month – lets the reader savor moments even more so. In a way, the picture book contains frozen “spots in time” that can come alive in your imagination.

I can't wait to try out Moonbot Studio's newest app - the IMAG-N-O-TRON with kids. Here's a preview of this fun new app:

Moonbot Imag•N•O•Tron Demonstration Video from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.

Thank you to Bill Joyce for making the time to visit, to Simon and Schuster for arranging this opportunity, and to Katie Davis for sharing the podcast. I feel like one very lucky book-loving kid.

©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This was the best interview ever. I stumbled upon it when listening to Brain Burps about books. William Joyce is my absolute favorite illustrator. He is a genius on par with Walt Disney. Your conversation with him was so enlightening. Oh, and I'm rather envious that you can call him Bill.