Wednesday, July 18, 2012

William Joyce talks about creating The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Occasionally, I will watch children read and reread a story, absolutely carried away on the story's journey. They will want to revisit that special story world again and again. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore amazes children and adults when they first read it. Some are amazed at the way the book app integrates animation and interactive features, but many readers are simply captivated by the story. Now, this wonderful book is available as a picture book to share with children.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
by William Joyce
NY: Simon and Schuster, 2012
available at your local library and on Amazon
Morris Lessmore is a man who loves words and stories, so much so that he surrounds himself with books. One day, he is swept away to a distant land when a terrible storm strikes. Adults may see reference to The Wizard of Oz or Hurricane Katrina, but children just follow Morris into a magical land of stories.
“Then a happy bit of happenstance came his way. Rather than looking down, as had become his habit, Morris Lessmore looked up. Drifting through the sky above him, Morris saw a lovely lady. She was being pulled along by a festive squadron of flying books.” 
The young woman sends him a story that leads him to a stately old home where books from years gone by apparently ‘nested.’ Morris explores this wonderful place, discovering his true home among the books and stories, each “whispering an invitation to adventure.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is currently number one on the New York Times Bestselling Children's Picture Books list - hooray! I'm so very glad it's reaching a wide audience.

I was honored last month to listen to William Joyce talk about his inspiration for this story. Listen to the speech he gave to gathered librarians and admirers at the Simon and Schuster party at the American Library Association, in June 2012. First, you'll hear Justin Chanda, his editor and the publisher of Books for Young Readers at Simon & Schuster, introduce Bill. And then listen to Bill describe the story behind Mr. Morris Lessmore.
Bill Joyce tells us that he originally wrote the story for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore in 1999, when he was visiting his friend and mentor, William Morris. And yet ten years later, after many hard years and too many losses, when he was getting Moonbot Studios off the ground, he came back to this story. Morris stands for everything he wanted Moonbot Studios to be about: the way stories can inspire us, feed our imagination and lift our souls.

If you'd like, you can also listen to my interview with Bill. I was so honored to be able to sit down with him and talk about the way new technologies like the iPad can be used to share stories with children.
Thank you to Bill Joyce, for sharing these stories with us and for taking the time to talk with me. Thank you to Simon and Schuster for arranging the interview. This interview was first shared on Katie Davis's fantastic podcast, Brain Burps About Books.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Simon & Schuster. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books
Speech ©2012 William Joyce


  1. Check out the new YA novel Cameo by Tanille. Available at your local bookseller and Barnes and Nobles next month!

  2. Mary Ann, your interview with Bill on Brain Burps was AMAZING! I swear my jaw was on the floor after I finished listening to it, and I was absolutely electrified with inspiration. Great job!

  3. It's great to heat that this is #1 on the Times list; very heartening news.