The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

In picture book, The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires, a girl, with her cute little dog as an assistant, decides to create the most magnificent thing. She sets up a workshop on the sidewalk outside her brownstone and begins her innovation. The resulting, supposed masterpiece, falls far short of her vision. She keeps tinkering with the concept, attempting to get it right, but to no avail. Frustrated she carries on, smashing the rejected items and hurting her finger in the process. Her assistant urges her to take him for a walk which calms her nerves. When she returns, she notices that there are elements from each of her designs that are actually usable. She sets out once again, this time taking bits and pieces from the previous projects to successfully complete the “almost” magnificent thing. It has flaws, but it is her creation and, in her eyes, still magnificent. The kindly neighbors are able to use the leftover pieces for their own personal needs, showing that ones person’s trash is another’s treasure.

Spires’ colorful descriptive language and alliterative cadence gives the story a nice touch, especially for a read-a-loud book. This wordage, combined with the compelling illustrative caricatures, adds another dimension, with the delightful sidekick dog providing a few laughs as an aside to the main theme. Children (and adults) will relate to the topic, recalling their own attempts at innovation which have fallen short, and The Most Magnificent Thing will hopefully inspire then to persevere and not give up hope in such circumstances. While the destructive behavior of the girl should not be condoned, the end result of her tantrum is positive. I admire the way the author models the concept of taking a break when a situation gets frustrating and demonstrates that physical exertion, such as walking, is good for settling the nerves when agitated. Children need to develop coping skills as well as realize that nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes, so it would be a good book to read to children who are struggling with such issues. Further uses include introducing the concept of creativity, especially at schools which sponsor some sort of Invention Convention in the elementary grades. It’s a shame we have to note that this book is about a GIRL who liked to invent things when stories such as this should be commonplace, not unique. An excellent addition to any library.

Four and a half stars and a thank you to Netgalley and Kids Can Press for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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