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The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore: 05/29/15

cover art

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce is about a bookworm who is whisked away to a magical world in a storm and becomes a librarian. He spends his life as a librarian until he's too old to make the magical books behave and he finds a replacement in a young girl who has come to the library, perhaps under similar circumstances. In a nod to the Narnia books before they got too preachy for their own good, Mr. Morris Lessmore returns to his youth upon leaving the magical world.

Morris's pre-Narnia-Oz world is drawn in drab colors reminiscent of the old silent films of the early 20th century. Specifically, Morris is the picture book twin of Buster Keaton. Keaton often portrayed rather bookish characters who through trial and error and excessive amounts of earnestness manage to win the affections of a beautiful young woman.

Mr. Lessmore

But the library itself within the bounds of a magical world where books fly lacks a certain something. It's not that books as actual magical items hasn't been done before. It's just not as effective here. My favorite example of this trope is the library in the film Mirror Mask.

Bookworms don't become librarians to control books or keep them in order or to have more time to read. Actually there's very little time on the job to read. Librarians like information and like hooking up people to information. Librarians know how to find stuff and to get to heart of a question even if you don't know how to ask the question.

Four stars

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