14 November 2017

Don't mind the dog in the background who refused to get out of the picture :)
Oftentimes, I've wondered where the children's books are that not only will keep my son engaged, but also will maintain my enthusiasm to read it over and over and over (and over!) again.They are out there, naturally, but as a first-time mother, I'd feel a sinking sense of overwhelming fear when navigating through a children's book section, unsure of how to look for something, or even what I was looking for. With the teeny tiny tots of all ages bursting from long aisles, toys askew on the carpets, and parents on cell phones who just need that "break," it added to the insurmountable feeling of my own confusion. I usually jumped on board with all of the very well known book titles, but some of those just didn't stick, or were a disappointment.

My son is almost four-years-old now and it has been extremely frustrating that for me, a life-long reader, to figure out exactly what "level" we should be reading at and what he "should" be enjoying has been a moving target. Comparison might be key for understanding overall development, but at some point in a school, or even unintentionally between moms, it becomes downright judgy. Every child is different. Every child verbalizes their emotions and feelings in unique ways that only their primary caregiver understands, who can translate and just "get it." Each child is different in which television show to watch, and it may be completely different than what most kids prefer. Every kid I know loves SpongeBob. I think SpongeBob is funny. My kid? Meh. It's okay. But the look on people's faces when you reveal that something wildly popular isn't of interest to him is received with shock and shakes of heads at times. Don't get me wrong, my son loves many a catchy show (Blues Clues! Transformers! Captain America and Iron Man). But my kid is not better than your kid. And your kid is not better than mine. Right? Everyone learns differently, both through books, television, and socially. 

So back to my confusion... I found myself wandering in the library again. Here I am, a book blogger of seven years, and I felt overwhelmed in a library? Or in the kids' section of a major bookstore? This cannot be.

But I was. And then one day, pregnant several months with Dominic, I was walking through a bookstore. By simple chance I happened upon a table that had books sorted all over in no particular order and I saw the cover of the book that immediately sparked my interested. And it was then that I remembered a fellow blogger had reviewed it years before. I cannot recall her name or site now, but should she still be out there and happen to read this, a BIG thank you goes to you. Thank you for writing a review so filled with passion and love for this book that I bought it the second I saw it in the store when my son was still just growing inside me, that I bought without even reading it or scanning through it. I never even really knew the story because I bought it only because of her review. It became a book I easily kept separate through my son's "I-rip-everything-to-shreds" baby stages, and then finally one night, when cleaning out a guest bedroom closet, I came across a stack of books and saw it at the top and immediately thought, "Oh! Here it is! I always wanted to read this!" 

That night, I read The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce and illustrated by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm for the very first time for me, and to my son, and I got so emotional at the end that I choked up and my eyes did the typical prick at the corners for slight tears. The beautiful imagination of the story, the imagery and characters so heartwarming and expectant, full of life and journeys and secrets within the book that my son will come to understand when he gets older, combined with the curiously delightful and beautiful illustration, completely touched my heart to its very core. Mr. Morris Lessmore, a quiet writer, suffers a devastating loss but is saved by a room filled with flying books that he tends to and cares for throughout his entire life. I turned the very last page and looked down at my son and found to my excited relief, that his eyes were wide and that he actually loved it, that he was just as entranced as I was by the tale of a man who lived his whole life among flying books in the library of his own world. I have read it every single night for two weeks to Dominic, and it has not grown old for either of us.

To the book blogger who wrote that review from four or so years ago - again, thank you. I truly hope I can give that book the same justice of a heart-touching review which encourages all who read this to buy it for their child, or to set it aside as a holiday gift to a friend or family. It will be entirely worth it.

There is even a short 15-minute film available on YouTube from MoonBot Studios and it is every bit as beautiful as I had hoped. I highly recommend you read the book first, of course, and then especially read the jacket with the author's description and the reason why he wrote it. It makes the story even more of, well, just everything amazing and good.

I will constantly be on the hunt for more of these stories. Do you have one that is every bit as enthralling, compelling and heartwarming? Drop your recommendation in the comments below, and I thank you kindly in advance.

About the Author
William Joyce is an American writer, illustrator, and filmmaker. His illustrations appeared on numerous New Yorker covers and his paintings are displayed at museums and art galleries. (Wikipedia) Visit the Author on his website

About the Illustrator
Joe Bluhm is an illustrator known for several incredible books including the work done on The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, and he has a new book coming out in 2018! Visit the Illustrator on his blog.

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