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 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.Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
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
Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.