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The Most Magnificent Thing

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Overview

Award-winning author and illustrator Ashley Spires has created a charming picture book about an unnamed girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. "She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!" But making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, ...
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Overview

Award-winning author and illustrator Ashley Spires has created a charming picture book about an unnamed girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. "She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!" But making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and manages to get it just right.
For the early grades' exploration of character education, this funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. The girl's frustration and anger are vividly depicted in the detailed art, and the story offers good options for dealing honestly with these feelings, while at the same time reassuring children that it's okay to make mistakes. The clever use of verbs in groups of threes is both fun and functional, offering opportunities for wonderful vocabulary enrichment. The girl doesn't just "make" her magnificent thing -- she "tinkers and hammers and measures," she "smoothes and wrenches and fiddles," she "twists and tweaks and fastens." These precise action words are likely to fire up the imaginations of youngsters eager to create their own inventions and is a great tie-in to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/27/2014
For her story of a girl’s ambition to build “the most magnificent thing,” Spires (the Binky the Space Cat books) draws her towing a red wagon full of random junk. “The girl saws and glues and adjusts. She stands, examines and stares. She twists and tweaks and fastens.” Shadowed by her stubby bulldog assistant, she hits a roadblock, and her frustration grows: “Her hands feel too big to work and her brain is too full of all the not-right things.” It’s the bulldog that realizes that his boss needs a break. In the act of taking a walk, her mind clears: “Bit by bit, the mad gets pushed out of her head.” The “magnificent thing” turns out to be a bulldog-size sidecar for her scooter. It’s a useful description of the creative process, an affirmation of making rather than buying, and a model for girl engineers. There are quiet laughs, too, like the description of the girl’s work area as “somewhere out of the way”—smack in the middle of the sidewalk, that is, annoying the maximum number of neighbors. Ages 3–7. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
One day our heroine decides she will make “the most MAGNIFICENT thing!” With her canine best friend as assistant, it should be “easy-peasy.” Out on the street they gather their supplies. After working a while, they examine their product, but find it “all WRONG.” She saws, glues, adjusts, examines, twists, tweaks, fastens, etc. etc., on and on, all in vain. So she gets “MAD.” She smashes a finger and explodes in anger and pain. When she decides to quit, her dog friend suggests a walk. But bit-by-bit she feels better. She finally figures out how to make “…the thing MAGNIFICENT,” in this celebration of creativity and perseverance. Digitally created illustrations display a stylized creator with a large head and stick legs and a bulbous dog. The linear background is sketched in; the page designs vary. The objects she creates and spreads along the sidewalk are very inventive; others find them useful. And her final creation is magnificent indeed. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz; Ages 4 to 7.
School Library Journal
04/01/2014
K-Gr 2—A girl decides to make something magnificent with the help of her assistant—her dog, but they "are shocked to discover that the thing isn't magnificent. Or good. It isn't even kind-of-sort-of okay. It is all wrong. The girl tosses it aside and gives it another go." From her efforts, children see the importance of planning, gathering supplies, building, and not giving up when a good idea doesn't initially work out. Ample use of white space makes the digital artwork pop. The text consists mainly of one- or two-line captions for the pictures, and the layout and design are spot-on, building action with a smart use of vignettes, boxed illustrations, and spreads. Clever use of artwork conveys the youngster's spectrum of emotions as she "saws and glues and adjusts," "smashes," "pummels," and "explodes" ("It is not her finest moment."). Then, finally, the girl finishes, and her scooter really is "the most magnificent thing." This is a solid choice with a great message that encourages kids not to quit in the face of disappointment but rather to change their perspective and start over.—Melissa Smith, Royal Oak Public Library, MI
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-02-26
Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine's experience as she struggles to realize her vision. First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: "[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!" The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn't turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she "tinkers," "wrenches," "fiddles," "examines," "stares" and "tweaks." Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner's through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant. Spires' understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554537044
  • Publisher: Kids Can Press, Limited
  • Publication date: 4/28/2014
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,467
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Lexile: AD380L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Ashley Spires grew up in the Pacific Northwest, the supposed stomping grounds of Bigfoot. She is the author and illustrator of a number of books for children, including Small Saul and the Adventures of Binky the Space Cat. She was the recipient of the 2011 Silver Birch Express Award and the 2011 Hackmatack Award for Binky the Space Cat and was shortlisted for a Joe Shuster Comics for Kids Award and an Eisner Award for Binky Under Pressure. Ashley currently lives in British Columbia.

Ashley Spires grew up in the Pacific Northwest, the supposed stomping grounds of Bigfoot. She is the author and illustrator of a number of books for children, including Small Saul and the Adventures of Binky the Space Cat. She was the recipient of the 2011 Silver Birch Express Award and the 2011 Hackmatack Award for Binky the Space Cat and was shortlisted for a Joe Shuster Comics for Kids Award and an Eisner Award for Binky Under Pressure. Ashley currently lives in British Columbia.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 9, 2014

    There isn't a thing about this book that I don't love. The illus

    There isn't a thing about this book that I don't love. The illustrations are fantastic. Ashley Spires has the kind of style that I am drawn to. The illustrations are unique, stylized, and very very cute. My kids especially liked the dog.

    This is precisely the kind of book that I like reading to my kids. It has a great message of "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again". The little girl (she doesn't have a name—she goes by "little girl") decides that she wants to build something magnificent. She gives it a go, but it doesn't work out. She tries again, and again, and again. Nothing works. She finally gets frustrated with her efforts and loses her temper. She takes a walk to cool off and when she comes back to her project, she notices the things she did right in each of her attempts. She uses this new knowledge to complete her magnificent idea.

    The little girl shows determination, perseverance, and hard work. She is a good example of striving hard for what you want, and never going down without a fight. I love that her invention didn't work out the first time. Things rarely do. I love that she works on it until she does get it right. It's a wonderful message for kids (and adults, too). This is definitely an author/illustrator to keep your eye on.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 1, 2014

    The Most Magnificent Inspirational Story! Brilliant story with

    The Most Magnificent Inspirational Story!

    Brilliant story with delightful illustrations, this is a great book for reading aloud and sharing! The girl and her best friend - her dog - do everything together and, when the girl dreams of making the magnificent thing her dog helps her. They try all different sorts of designs but nothing seems to work until . . . . well, that would spoil the book for you - you need to read it yourself to find out what happens but it is fantastic!

    I really enjoyed this book and couldn’t resist sharing it with my daughter - even though she is now grown up! I will be looking out for other books by this author and illustrator in future. The story involves the girl setting some excellent role model moments of willingness to have a go, even though the task is difficult . . . keeping on trying, modifying ideas and adapting despite set backs . . . . and that if you keep on trying, you may eventually succeed!

    Thanks to the author, publishers and NetGalley too 
    for letting me read this book in exchange for this, an honest review.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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