Oscar Nod to Fantastic Flying Books Shows Love for Libraries

Posted Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 12:45
Screenshot from The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

A film allegory that celebrates the curative power of story in general—and reading in particular—won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short February 26. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, a wordless film whose most inspiring scenes take place in a fanciful library full of living books, was produced by start-up Moonbot Studios in Shreveport, Louisiana, and depicts how the title character heals emotionally, over time, from the cataclysmic devastation of his personal world by Hurricane Katrina through the transformative properties of the written word.

Dedicated to the late HarperCollins children’s publishing giant William Morris and New Orleans children’s literature champion and storyteller Coleen Salley, the 14-minute 2-D short had already received awards at 13 film festivals. Fittingly, William Joyce, who created Morris Lessmore with codirector Brandon Oldenburg, has also written a yet-to-be-published children’s book of the same name and developed an iPad app that enables users to explore Lessmore’s world in a way that differs from the picture-book or film experience.

“The app and film build off the book—neither can be just regurgitation,” Joyce told American Libraries. “I see all of these things coming together in a way so that I can explore different avenues, different details, and different parts of the same narrative and give the reader more story.”