August 23, 2011

Morris' flying books

A popular app getting rave reviews is The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. It is based on an animated short film of the same name, both by William Joyce, a well-known picture book author. (George Shrinks,Bently & Egg, Dinosaur Bob)

Morris Lessmore is a young man who loves books. He loves reading them and writing them. One day, as he's writing in his book, a mighty wind comes up. It blows away his words and, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, sends him into another world. In that world are books that fly. They take Morris to their home, a vast library, where he cares for them until he dies. At the end, he becomes young again and flies away, leaving his books in the hands of young girl who will care for them in turn.

The trailer is quite appealing and convincing, as you will see:

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore iPad App Trailer from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.

The app allows you to do many things, such as starting the wind, painting a sky, playing a piano, or mending a book. You can also make the books talk or create words in a bowl of cereal. However, there are a few problems. Sometimes it's hard to figure out what to do on each page. Your random tapping and swiping can result in unwanted page turns, which is a bit frustrating if you have the narration on. Other times, the interactivity is very brief, resulting in an is that it? feeling. And the Pop Goes the Weasel motif can get stuck in your head for days.

The story is longer than most ebooks, so it may be unsuitable for impatient users.

Far better is the 14-minute short film, which has a nice, smooth flow and makes the story easier to understand. It also shows that a really good story doesn't need words or interactivity to capture a reader's attention.

So, I definitely prefer the film, and wish that I had known about it before I bought the app. But with the reasonable prices - $4.99 for the app, $6.99 for the film - you can buy both and decide for yourself.

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