Thanks to my sisters, I have a deep love for books ever since I was a young boy. I still remember them borrowing storybooks or books about the nature from the British Council – and on occasions, I was also brought along to the library. As I got older, my love for books grew – as well as Indonesian books, I also started reading abridged versions of Steinbeck’s, Asimov’s and other authors as my confidence and my proficiency in English improved. I became a member of the British Council Library in my own right I still remember the first unabridged fiction that I read – it was J.G. Ballard’s Empire of the Sun, years before Spielberg turned it into a movie.
Although there’s always the temptation for me to buy an iPad or an electronic reader – I still find it very satisfying to hold a physical book, turn the pages as I savour every word that comes alive from the mind of the author. Never mind that I would need to lug the book in my bag, there’s nothing that beats the feeling after you read the last page, when you close the book and take a deep breath and look at the cover again. During those weeks of reading, you got to know the characters like your old friends and you know you would miss them.
The books have brought me to places that I am yet to discover and to periods that I will never experience. That is the reason why I love fictions – and although I do read travelogues, biographies and other more ‘serious’ books, I still like some occasional dose of Niall Williams, Andrew O’Hagan, Alistair McLeod, or Per Petersson.
Then yesterday as I discovered a long-lost friend on Facebook I came across a post on her Facebook timeline – a short animated movie called The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. Intrigued, I had a look and as the minute crept to the ending of the movie, I felt myself a tad misty-eyed towards the finale. I can be quite a sook sometimes. This post is not just a review of the clip but more of an agreement to the sentiment captured in it – how books give us wings to fly. They bring us joy and tears and words that we can’t even pronounce nor understand. It is us who need to carry the legacy forward to the next generation – to love books and to exercise our imagination. It’s quite a pity when people prefer to wait for the movies to come out and have a version of the story displayed so it is easier to digest. My idea of the main characters could be different to how the actors portray them – and the image in my mind about the settings may be the opposite to what the directors have in mind. Reading makes my mind active and my imagination young. I am back to being a boy again, imagining life in Shanghai as the Japanese soldiers come marching in …
So, if you love books as much as I do, or even more – please watch this brilliant little clip. The story is simple but animated to perfection, the music is based on an old nursery rhyme, but the execution is flawless. Moreover, without any narration, it is like reading a book – we have our own interpretation of what happens in the clip and how it begins and ends.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is nominated for an Academy Awards in the Best Short Animated Film and I sincerely hope they will win it. The full clip can be seen below and you can also purchase the App in iTunes for your iPad, if you wish.