The ultimate e-book experience
Perhaps it’s the three year old inside me, but I love Pixar films. I mean, I really love them, perhaps a little too much. Just ask my fiance – I bounce and squeak when something exciting happens, and cry buckets of tears when it gets sad.
Still, when I heard that author and former Pixar animator William Joyce had released a digital book, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore, through his new venture, Moonbot Studios, combining traditional storytelling and digital animation, I got a little excited. Ok, a lot excited.
In addition to the story, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore is also a short film, although I have yet to watch that.
Needless to say, I had pretty high expectations of this e-book, and it did not disappoint.
Morris Lessmore is a sweet, poignant tale about a man who dedicates his life to books, only to have them all taken away in a big storm. As he discovers other peoples stories he is able to discover his own again, all while sharing the stories with others.
I think the thing that makes this a stand-out for me is that it does not rely on the music or special effects to engage its audience – the story itself is engaging, while the effects simply serve to enhance the story.
The use of classical instruments to highlight moments throughout the story was beautifully done and for me was reminiscent of seeing the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra play the tale of Peter and the Wolf as a child.
If you ever get the chance to attend a symphonic version of a children’s tale I highly recommend it. It’s amazing how much of a story can be told through music.
The animations themselves are restrained, allowing the storytelling to take the front seat.
Coming back to Morris Lessmore, one of the things I found most interesting was the story behind the story.
In the first video covering “The Making of Morris”, creator and director Joyce talks about the three main catalysts for this project.
One was the life of Joyce’s mentor, Harper Collins’ Bill Morris, who dedicated his life to sharing stories with the world.
The second influencer was University of New Orleans children’s literature teacher Coleen Sally, who Joyce described as a vivid character.
“She believed absolutely in the power of a story to change a life, and I felt like she needed to be in this short as well,” said Joyce.
The third catalyst for the creation of Morris Lessmore was Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005.
“The streets were filled with books, washed away from all the libraries and people’s homes, and that just seemed like a perfect symbol for what had gone on and it worked really well I think for our film, that people were looking for their stories again,” Joyce said.
I think the thing that stands out for me about Morris Lessmore is that it takes e-books into a new realm. It is a true hybrid of film and storybook, which to me tells of the real potential of e-books beyond just digital copies of regular books.
The e-book The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore is only available for iPad at the moment. You can buy it in the iTunes store (rather than the iBookstore) for $A5.49.
The movie can be downloaded for $1.99 and I don’t think it’s limited to iPad users – it doesn’t say iPad only, so that has to count for something.
I’d love to hear from anyone who has watched the film or read the book, so check it out and tell me what you think!
If you’re interested in finding out more about Moonbot Studios or Morris Lessmore, try these links:
Also, if you are interested in reviews of other games and applications for Mac devices, check out Rambling Aussie, a blog for Mac gamers.