12.Jul.2011 The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore by William Joyce (Moonbot Studios)

Hey, what’s this? An iPad App in a blog about children’s books?

Sacrilege?!

No, in fact The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore is the kind of e-book both my kids and I had been waiting for. What’s more (and somewhat ironically) it itself is an ode to the pleasure of books.

We’ve had a number of the ‘interactive books’ in the house since the iPad set foot in our abode. First the Dr Seuss titles from Oceanmedia – really just early readers with a ‘read-it-to-me’ mode. Then those interactive ‘reference titles’ like the Solar System.

But none, until now, have really started to show the potential of the medium in terms of storytelling. No doubt Lessmore’s richness is a result of its parallel life as a short film, and the talents of Pixar-quality illustration and animation (Joyce used to do character design for Pixar). But the first thing that struck me about this title was that the interactive elements were so well integrated into the story itself. Whereas other titles intersperse a classic story with an interactive scene (Alice in Wonderland being the first example of this), every scene in Morris Lessmore is ‘interactive’ – but not to the point where it takes over from the story itself.

Apart from the illustrations, animation and interactivity, what matters most is that it’s a worthwhile story too – a man who gets lost in books – with the same wistful quality that Pixar’s Up did.

Being a well designed App, the sound effects, music and voiceovers can all be toggled as well as the text itself – so you can go completely ‘book-like’ or completely ‘film-like’ depending on your preferences.

At US$4.99 The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore is a complete bargain – you’d be paying $20 if it was a hardcover picture book. And it’d be half as fun. Highly recommended.

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