The Most Magnificent Thing, by Ashley Spires. Kids Can Press (2014), $16.95, ISBN: 9781554537044
Recommended for ages 4-8
One day, a girl and her dog set out to make the “most magnificent thing” – the girl draws up schematics (her dog is the assistant), gets materials, and sets up on the street, getting to work. When she’s finished, she takes a look at it – it’s not really what she had in mind. She tries again. And again. And again. She just can’t make her vision come to life, and she gets MAD. At this point, her assistant suggests a walk, where she starts to feel better; she finds she has regained self-control and even more, perspective, allowing her to go back and look at her previous creations with a refreshed eye.
Ashley Spires, who some may know from her Binky the Space Cat series, looks at the frustrating process of working on something and not having it turn out the way you envision it. It is something everyone can relate to, from a LEGO structure to a Science Fair project to a PowerPoint presentation for the big client meeting. Children, who are still learning the delicate art of self-control, will recognize themselves in these pages, as the girl becomes increasingly frustrated with her work, and once she injures herself, loses her temper. Her dog/assistant serves as comic relief and ends up saving the day by having her walk away and clear her head. The book teaches a valuable lesson to kids and grownups alike; walking away and returning when you’re calmer often allows the ability to see things are not so bad after all, and maybe, you can even find things you liked in the project you were about to crumple up and throw out.
The digital art is adorable. The characters have large, expressive faces, and are set against a mostly line-art, blue and black or white and black background, so they really stand out. There are some beautiful spreads and the font itself is a curvy font with a quirky personality and fits perfectly with the story. The endpapers display the row of brownstones where the story takes place, leading the reader into the story.
This is a good book to use for a storytime on patience or feelings. Perhaps a small LEGO craft afterward, or a construction paper assembly craft will help young minds create their own most magnificent things.
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