As humans, we’ve all experienced something that we’ve overcome like facing the loss of a loved one or maybe you had to move. In The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, William Joyce tells of Morris, an ordinary man who lost it all and overcame his problems with the help of a good book. When Hurricane Katrina caused Morris to lose everything he loved and everything he ever worked on, he ended up having no clue as to where to go. Then a lady pulled by flying books drifted through the sky. She tossed down her favorite book to Morris and lead him to a building where other books nested. “And so Morris’s life among the books began.“ For years upon years, Morris spent his time restoring and taking care of the books and they became his friends. When Morris became old, the books returned the favor and took care of him.
Morris Lessmore was a young man with a love for words, stories, books. “His life was a book of his own writing, one orderly page after another.” This sentence gives off the essence that he was constantly writing about everything in his life. Morris even wrote about his city: “It is a city unlike any other. Its distractions are many, but I think it informs my work. But I still seem adrift. In a city that care forgot, how is it that I care so much for order? Reason? Clarity? Why does it matter if the weasel goes ‘pop!’ after the mulberry bush has been gone ’round?” Everything seemed to be perfect in Morris’s life, almost a little too perfect. “But every story has its upsets.” One day, a hurricane struck and caused Morris to lose it all – his house, his books, and everything he ever wrote. But why did the words in the books fly away?
I believe Joyce used the hurricane as a symbol of people who are starting their lives over again, which gave off the idea that Morris’s person journal should become blank. Once the hurricane was over, Morris was left with nothing and he didn’t know where to go. “So he began to wander. And wander.” Then Morris looked up and saw a lovely lady drifting through a sky being pulled by a bundle of books. This made him wonder if his book could fly too, but it couldn’t. The woman understood that Morris was in need of a good book because maybe she too was once in his state. So she sent her favorite book Humpty Dumpty to lead Morris to the building where many books reside. Humpty Dumpty was a special book as he was able to express emotion through different illustrations. And it was pretty clear that those books in the library weren’t ordinary, but rather they were extraordinary. The books could interact with each other and with Morris, like they were humans or something more than that.
“Morris found great satisfaction in caring for the books, gently fixing those with fragile bindings and unfolding the dog-eared pages of others.” Morris was a caretaker for the books by day, constantly getting up to feed them breakfast in the morning and fixing their dust jackets, and a writer by night. If someone were to come to the ‘library’ Morris would give them a book and they would walk away happy as they return to their normal color. This was what he loved to do. It was his life. When Morris grew crippled and old, the books took care of him as he had done for them all those years. “Then one day he filled the last page in his book.” At this point, Morris knew it was time for him to go. Even though the books were sad, they understood. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
What I think the message behind the story of Mr. Morris Lessmore is that you should never give up, that you should always follow your dreams. I also think that Joyce is trying to show readers the healing power of books. Even through the awful storm, Morris didn’t give up and kept pursuing his passion. This book shows Morris going through love, loss, and healing. And in this case, it’s his love for books that got him through it all. I also believe that William Joyce used Morris’s last name – Lessmore – as an allusion to deliver the message “Less is More” and more often than not, less is more. By the unrealistic standards of today’s world, Morris wasn’t leading an epic life, but to me, he wasn’t leading an epic Christian life like God intended for us to do. While I was watching the film, I felt as if Morris was isolating himself from the world since there was only one scene in which Morris interacted with other humans. After the film was over, I finally came to the realization that Morris did in fact fulfill his purpose in life. “Morris liked to share the books with others.” It gave him joy to know others enjoy the same things he did. He lead an epic life by doing what he loved and at the end of the book/film, you can clearly see that Morris was happy.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a truly amazing story and so is the story behind it. It all started as a tribute to William Morris, Joyce’s mentor, but when Hurricane Katrina devastated Joyce’s home state, it was put on hold. When Joyce was given a grant to see children in shelters, he was able to personally witness the healing power of books, which I think sparked the idea for when the people read books, they would return to their normal color. It seems to me like Joyce used what he and others around him personally experienced as the theme for Morris’s story. And to me, that is a very powerful message behind the story.