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The most magnificent thing
2014
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Author Notes
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. <p>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.</p>
Fiction/Biography Profile
Characters
Unnamed (Girl),
Genre
Fiction
Juvenile
Topics
Friendship
Animals
Dogs
Exploration
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  Publishers Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

  School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

One day, a young girl who enjoys creating things decides to build something truly special. So, after drawing diagrams, hiring an assistant (aka her best-pal pooch), and collecting materials, she establishes her sidewalk workshop. But, alas, bringing vision to fruition isn't easy. Progressively, excitement and confidence wane, motivation turns to meltdown then to defeat (I'm no good at this. I QUIT!). Happily, some timely dog walking brings clarity, calm, and an inspiration for an imaginative solution that just might work. Fanciful illustrations depict the spindly, cartoonish characters; the girl's intricate found-object contraptions; and colorful scenarios against black-and-white line drawings of a city-neighborhood setting. Interspersed all-capitalized words enliven the text, though the smaller-sized, spiky font may be more for one-on-one sharing or slightly older readers. With witty and whimsical elements (including the dog's side antics), this supportively portrays the sometimes-frustrating process of translating ideas to reality and shows how a new perspective can help problem solve and rekindle enthusiasm and joy.--Rosenfeld, Shelle Copyright 2014 Booklist

  Horn Book Review

A determined little girl sets out to create "the most MAGNIFICENT thing." Using small metal parts and tools, she struggles to make her creations match the elaborate plan in her head and becomes increasingly frustrated with each attempt. A walk offers fresh perspective. The digital illustrations are mildly entertaining, as is the meandering text. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Summary
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. 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.
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