Saturday, October 1, 2016

Review: The Most Magnificent Thing

18383325 The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*I received an ecopy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review*
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 smooths 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.

I love the message, and this story tells it in a fun way. While this can be seen as empowering for girls especially, I think this is a great message for all children. The little girl in this book can be viewed as both an engineer, and an artist, and uses her creativity to make something useful. She tries one way, and then another, but it doesn't seem quite right. The beauty of this book, it just when the character wants to give up, she is encouraged to look again. I also enjoyed that her assistant was her dog, as many children are close to their pets, and can easily relate. Something all schools should have, this is a fun story with a great message for people of all ages!

About the Author:
Ashley was born and raised in British Columbia where she resides still with her cats Gracie and Charlotte. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and a Graduate Diploma in Illustration from Sheridan College. In addition to her illustration, she founded Chicken Tika Creations (which she named after her dog, not the food) and is selling her hand felted items across Canada.

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