BOOKS

Cover of the book The Most Magnificent Thing
The Most Magnificent Thing
Written and illustrated by Ashley Spires. Kids Can Press, 2014. 32 pages, $16.95.
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Reviewed by Tanushree Krishnanand

This picture book is the story of a girl’s creating “the most magnificent thing.” She has an idea, which she sets out to create with assistance from her dog. She “tinkers and hammers and measures,” and she “smooths and wrenches and fiddles.” She perseveres. The girl tries several designs. In the process she gets mad as nothing seems to be working. She takes a break, goes out for a walk with her dog and examines her failed attempts again. She finds, in each of her failed designs, something she can use. She then gets to work, “carefully and slowly” and accomplishes what she had set her mind to.

This is a charming picture book about a young girl’s journey in engineering. The pictures are simple, and a second read will reveal that while “the most magnificent thing” is never mentioned, the initial goal was. With the play on words, “...saws and glues and adjusts,” the book focuses on her attempts to get “it” right. I also like this book because our female protagonist is not a princess or a fairy. She is simply portrayed as a character, who independently works to achieve her goal.

This is a great read-aloud for elementary students to discuss growth mindset, learning from our mistakes and how to handle our feelings. Primary grade students will enjoy the simple pictures and the relationship between the girl and her dog as she perseveres. Junior grade students can take this discussion a bit deeper to understand how we are all capable of achieving our goals, even when the people around us do not understand them. Older students will also benefit from exploring the verbs used throughout this book. I recommend this picture book to learners of all ages to appreciate the process of creating and the tenacity it takes to enjoy the fruits of our labour.

Tanushree Krishnanand is a member of Durham Occasional Teacher Local.

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