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Oscars: A cartoon about the wonders of reading takes the prize

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Mark J. Terrill/STF/AP

(Read caption) Children's author William Joyce (r.) offered a shout-out to the resilient folk of Louisiana during his acceptance speech for Best Animated Short Film, saying, 'We’re just down there in Louisiana, where people just keep on trying and keep going.'

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On a night devoted to the wonders of film, at least one category at Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony offered a shining testament to the wonders of books, too.

Children’s author William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, directors of a 14-minute cartoon called “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” took home an Oscar Sunday for Best Animated Short Film.

True to its title, the animated short is a magical story about the joy of books. In a nod to the state where Joyce and Oldenburg’s studio is located, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” has a Louisiana theme, as the title character, his books blown away in a storm that closely resembles Hurricane Katrina, finds his library reconstituted by whimsical volumes that fly like birds. As Lessmore faces old age and the prospect of mortality, he realizes that literature, like his timeless flying books, has the power to outlive individual lives.

A clip of the film, and an app that allows viewing of the entire cartoon, is available at for online viewing.

Joyce, who lives in his native city of Shreveport, La., is best known as the author of fantastical children’s books such as “Dinosaur Bob,” “George Shrinks” and “Rolie Polie Olie,” many of which have been adapted as animated productions.


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