Monday, July 18, 2011


Sometimes you read a book and know you are experiencing something amazing.  This is what happened to me after reading the new multimedia book for the iPad called THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE by Moonbot Studios. I heard about this book on Twitter from Jeremy Brueck. If you are not familiar with his work, his site, Raised Digital is a great resource for ebooks for children. Then I learned from this post that the creator is an ex-Pixar designer.  I knew it had to be good.

Here is the thing--there are lots of apps and ebooks being published and it is important to really think about whether the book is good for the glitzy technology or whether it is truly a good story.  I am loving all of the new ways creators are using media to tell stories but many of the new ebooks for kids that I see are of pretty poor quality. Either they are books that have been quickly transformed to an app or they are books created by technology companies who don't always know about child and literacy development. So I was thrilled to see this one. I figured that Pixar people understand story and that is the most important thing, right?

THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE is an incredible story that seems to change things when it comes to what is possible with multimedia storytelling. First of all, it is a great story. I sighed when I finished and I watched other people sigh at the end too.  It is a great story about the power of books and reading and the art (without the animation) is pretty incredible.  The animation and the multimedia effects make the book and the story even better.

I have been paying attention to how using new media draws the reader in and I am amazed at how intuitive this new book is.  I worry when it is the games and outside activities that pull a reader in--so much interaction that doesn't even go along with the story.  But in this book the interaction adds to the story.  Each page of the book gives the reader something that adds a new layer of meaning to the story.  And the way the visuals and the text works, the reader just knows what the interactive invitation is on most pages. It is done that well. Just as Mo Willem's books like DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS invite readers to naturally jump in and participate, yelling out to the pigeon, this multimedia book does the same thing for readers of all ages by inviting readers to interact in a variety of ways. That intuitiveness is important to me.

After I fell in love with the book, I invited (forcibly) several friends and family members to read the book on my iPad. It was too good not to share!  Then, I sat back and watched.  What fascinated me was that I saw the same thing over and over and over.  Whether it was Mary Lee, my 11 year old daughter or my husband, the pattern of the experience was somewhat similar.  Everyone was at first fascinated by the art and the "cool" effects.  They wanted to try everything and touch every page.  But as the story continued, each reader seemed to quiet down a bit. Each reader was immersed in the story and with where it was going.  The animation and interaction continued to be important, but the story took over and they stopped saying, "wow" and "cool" out loud.
Mary Lee enjoying the story:-)

Every interaction in this book is purposeful. There are no games to play and no unrelated actions.   Even the music is connected to the interactivity and adds more meaning to the story. I had not seen that in an ebook before.  (and from what I understand, you can turn off the voice so you can read the words yourself, but still keep the background music on--I need to check that feature out!)  And there are new things to be discovered upon rereading the book.

This is a great story for readers of all ages. It is not short--takes about 15 minutes to read.  It is a picture book that young children can enjoy and one that older readers will experience with depth.  I cannot WAIT to share it with my students in the fall. It is well worth the $4.99 if you have an iPad. From what I understand, it will also be published in several ways and the short film has already won a ton of awards. If you don't have an iPad, I would find a friend who does, and purchase this app for them so that you can experience it yourself! Or I would buy an iPad. This book seems worth an iPad purchase--especially as we watch to see how the concept of books, storytelling and literacy evolve over the next few years. This will be one of the first things I purchase for our iPads at school and I have already ordered a connector so that we can experience the book together on a large screen or Smartboard.

Lots has already been written on this app and it has really changed what is possible with storytelling. So very exciting! You can read more:
Book App Review: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

And even more fun is the Morris Lessmore site which has lots of information on what it took to actually create this app. As the site says, this is "old fashioned and cutting edge at the same time." So true!

Find a way to experience this story ASAP!


  1. Franki,Thank you for a great blog today! Just like the book, your descriptions draw me in and your enthusiasm is contagious. I love that you conducted your own action research too. I can't wait to check it out!

  2. I was so caught up in your "review" I had to buy it and I am not sorry!!! It's wonderful!!! A perfect way to start off the school year:) Thank you, thank you!! I hope you don't mind but I blogged about it on my blog and told everyone to come here!!

    4th Grade Frolics

  3. I am from Shreveport, LA and know the man who created and owns Moonbot Studios. So glad so many people are enjoying the book. He is a very talented man!

  4. That bit about buying an iPad just to have this app...I'm
    almost there...It could just happen that way. Most expensive app on the planet!!

  5. I saw this app the other day and throught it would be just another low quality e-book. I'm so glad that I was wrong. I will be purchasing this on my school iPad in August. Thanks for your enthusiasm.

  6. I downloaded it as soon as I read your review. I LOVED it!!! I've made everyone in my household watch it/interact with it too. I loved everything about it! Thank you so much for the review :)

  7. I'm so sad that I don't have an ipad or know anyone that does. I would love to read this story.


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