The Most Magnificent Thing


Written and Illustrated by Ashley Spires

Kids Can Press, 2014

This is a regular girl and her best friend in the whole wide world.

The plot in a nutshell:  A girl inventor tries to make something amazing.

The girl gets the idea of make a magnificent thing and since she’s clear in her mind about how it will look and work, she feels it will be easy to build. Her first try at it, though, is all wrong. She tinkers and works, but her second attempt is also wrong. She keeps trying and changing things, but over and over, it’s not what she wanted and she gets angry. Her assistant (who is her best friend and also a dog) suggests a walk to calm down and it helps. When she comes back, she sees that several of her attempts actually have elements that are just right, so looking at them again helps her realize exactly what she needs to do to make it work. And although the new finished product isn’t perfect, it’s what she wanted and it is magnificent.

This aptly-named book from author/illustrator Ashley Spires is one of those rare and wonderful books that you just want to share with every child you know. Our main character is brilliant and tenacious, making her instantly likeable. When she gets angry, it’s completely understandable, since it only happens after multiple failed attempts at her invention and even then, it takes a painful injury to put her over the edge. And once her head has cleared, she takes a scientific approach to finding the real solution by looking at what worked and didn’t work in her previous tries.


I’m concerned about why that guy needs to ward off bears.

The artwork was created digitally with (according to the acknowledgements page) “lots of practice, two hissy fits and one all-out tantrum,” which makes me wonder if Ms. Spires is telling us something about her creative process in this book. One little detail that I absolutely adore is that we see that some of her attempts, while not being exactly what she wanted for her purpose, seem to perfectly suit a specific necessity for other people. It reminds us that things have different value to different people and that every step forward can be a success for someone, even if it isn’t exactly one for you. The thing she creates, incidentally, is a sidecar for her scooter that enables her best friend to ride in style. And yeah, like this book, it’s truly magnificent.

And what did we learn?  What I take away from this book is that in every attempt, you learn something that takes you a step closer to success.


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