‘Morris Lessmore loved words. Loved stories. Loved books. But every story has its upsets…’

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis/Review:

Mr Morris Lessmore loves words. He loves stories. He loves books. He writes each day in his own book, pouring out his joys and sorrows, wishes and dreams, hopes and frustrations. But one day, quite unexpectedly and quite literally, Morris’ life gets flipped upside down and his world changes from colour to grey, order to disorder, security to uncertainty. As he begins his new sad journey, he discovers first one book and then many more. Thus begins a new life among lived amongst a plethora of pages, where he learns each day the wonder of the word and the beauty of the book.

I have recommended a number of books both on this blog and at my Twitter page @MrBReading, from Early Years up to ‘grown-up’ books. If I share it, it is because I love it! And yet there are very few books, if any, which bring out such an emotional response as this one. Whilst Morris’ clothes do date him to sometime in the early 20th Century, the story is perfect in its timeless qualities. The pictures are bold and vivid, and, like the very best, contribute far more to the story than merely illustrating the words. The use of colour throughout the book is simply sublime and the range of emotions captured really contribute to the reader feeling as though they are with Morris on his journey, both literal and figurative. Having seen the breath-taking short movie based on the book (Oscar-winning, no less!), I was worried that when I finally got the book, the words would detract from the simple beauty of the story. My fears were unfounded. W. E. Joyce has perfectly married the pictures and the prose to create a rare thing – a story which I feel could be truly enjoyed even if read without one of the two!

But beyond dissecting the elements of the book, there is more to ‘Fantastic Books…’ than just a good story. Literature matters. Books matter. They can warm the heart and break it, help you to escape a situation you’re in or understand it better. I love books, and if you’re reading this then I can only assume you do too. But what this book really promotes, in addition to the brilliance of books, is the value and worth of a story. As Mr Lessmore himself states, “Everyone’s story matters.” And if it’s not too pretentious to quote myself in a blog (it feels pretentious… Ima do it anyway), ‘it is clear that there are some things which are uniquely human, and one of these is the ability to lose oneself in a story.’ If one book sums up my sentiments here, it is ‘The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore’, and I highly recommend you grab yourself (and your classroom/library) a copy.

Recommended age: Upper Key Stage 2 (Although I read it almost daily and I’m a little older than Upper Key Stage 2!!!)

Themes/topics:

  • Books
  • Stories
  • Friendship
  • Authors
  • Death
  • Loss
  • Perseverance
  • Persistence
  • Wild Weather
  • Flying

Teaching ideas:

  • Lessmore writes a book throughout story – plenty of 1st person writing opportunities
  • Share books that are special to each child
  • Share books which are special to you as teacher!
  • Lots of fun role-play area ideas
  • Create a display of class’ favourite words
  • Use the short film as writing stimulus
    • Play first scene – descriptive writing
    • Retell parts of the story
  • Art – design own books
  • Imagine what different books might be like if they came to life
  • Visit to local, and research about, libraries
  • Research extreme weather
  • Which book would you give to someone to change their lives?
  • Lots of scope for book reviews
  • Explore all the different genres and types of book – what are pupils’ favourites?
  • Lessmore often got ‘lost’ in a book. Write a story about somebody who literally gets lost in a book!
  • Make connections to The Wizard of Oz
  • We see two other characters briefly – what could their stories have been?
  • Cross-curricular links with other flying things – what other objects might fly? Real or fantasy.
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