The story of Morris Lessmore and his beloved books ends with an unexpected emotional punch, a satisfying, lovely finish for...

THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE

A poignant, potent ode to books (the paper kind) that combines top-notch animation, just the right amount of interactivity and a tear-jerking story.

Based on a 15-minute animated short (which can be downloaded from iTunes via a link in the app's main menu), this pitch-perfect adaptation captures much of the nuance and emotion of the source material without trying too hard to capture every beat. Morris Lessmore, who appears to be modeled after silent film–era comics like Buster Keaton, is a writer whose obsession with the written word is evident by the precariously stacked books around him. After a storm flings him from his balcony and literally blows the words off the pages of all the town's tomes, Morris finds himself wandering until he spots a woman flying through the air, carried by bird-like books. An anthropomorphic version of "Humpty Dumpty" befriends Morris and leads him to a magical library, where he'll write his own story and care for the residents there. Though the app's text is all original (the short film features no dialogue or voice over, only music), it sparkles. In the library, "The tragedies needed to be cheered up and would visit with the comedies. The Encyclopedias, weary of facts would relax with the comic books and fictions. All in all, it was an agreeable jumble." Merely adapting the story well from the film might legitimately have been enough. But the interactive elements, including a playable piano, books that speak in distinct book quotes when touched and small games, don't feel at all tacked on; they enrich the experience without detracting from the main story or disrupting its flow.

The story of Morris Lessmore and his beloved books ends with an unexpected emotional punch, a satisfying, lovely finish for an altogether winning app. (iPad storybook app. 4-12)

Pub Date: May 26, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: MoonBot Studios

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale.

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AARON SLATER, ILLUSTRATOR

From the Questioneers series

The latest book in the Questioneer series centers an African American boy who has dyslexia.

Roberts’ characteristic cartoon illustrations open on a family of six that includes two mothers of color, children of various abilities and racial presentations, and two very amused cats. In a style more expressive and stirring than other books in the series, Beaty presents a boy overcoming insecurities related to reading comprehension. Like Harlem Renaissance artist Aaron Douglas, the boy’s namesake, the protagonist loves to draw. More than drawing, however, young Aaron wishes to write, but when he tries to read, the letters appear scrambled (effectively illustrated with a string of wobbly, often backward letters that trail across the pages). The child retreats into drawing. After an entire school year of struggle, Aaron decides to just “blend in.” At the beginning of the next school year, a writing prompt from a new teacher inspires Aaron, who spends his evening attempting to write “a story. Write something true.” The next day in class, having failed to put words on paper, Aaron finds his voice and launches into a story that shows how “beauty and kindness and loving and art / lend courage to all with a welcoming heart.” In the illustration, a tableau of colorful mythological beings embodies Aaron’s tale. The text is set in a dyslexia-friendly type. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale. (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5396-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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