'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 1 February 2012

ebook Review: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore

Morris Lessmore is sitting most contentedly on his front porch when some pretty major winds, à la Dorothy, upend his house and scatter his life far and wide. Even the words in his favourite book are scattered from its pages.

Wandering aimlessly to who-knows-where, Morris happens upon a magical lady, soaring through the air behind a flock of flying books. The lady notices a very downcast Morris, who's obviously in need of a fabulous story, and gives him a book - with legs - featuring Humpty Dumpty.

The book leads Morris to an extraordinary building, crammed with all manner of books whispering thousands of stories. Instantly, Morris is entranced… and so, his new life with the books (and their fantastical stories) begins.

This strikingly beautiful ebook is part quirky story, part short film (indeed, it is taken from an award winning animated short) – of exceptionally high quality. The animation, music, sounds effects and story thread are quite breathtaking, with delicious narration to boot.

Scenes such as Morris feeding his books cereal in the morning (ABC cereal, of course), binding up the spines of dog-eared tomes and running along and flying through lines of text, are just mesmerizing.

Interactivity includes tipping Morris through pages by maneouvering the iPad, tapping, swiping, swirling and more. One of my favourite scenes is the one where Morris shares the books with people queued at his window – and each book can be dragged to each person, eliciting a themed response – the little boy who turns into a pirate, the man who takes on the role of Tiny Tim, the woman who becomes the bride of Frankenstein.

An easily-accessed side bar offers super simple navigation, and there are options to read alone, watch the short movie (internet access required) or be read to. There is also a very visual table of contents and an option to read the story in 10 different languages, including Korean, Japanese, French and German (though the narration remains in English).

Based on a book by William Joyce, this emotive, funny, beautiful work, is a genius ebook of depth and complexity, with stunning aesthetics and a heartfelt storyline you won’t want to end.

Inspired by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton and the Wizard of Oz, Morris Lessmore is a striking interactive ebook I would also love to own as a classic picture book. It’s a story that celebrates the endless cycle of life – and the life-altering intensity humans can feel for the contents of a book.


The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore is published by Moonbot Studios and is available on iTunes for A$5.49 (worth it).