The Most Magnificent Thing (Most Magnificent #1)

by Ashley Spires (Author) Ashley Spires (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

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.

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
Spires' understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight.


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.

Publishers Weekly

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.

School Library Journal

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.

Review quotes

"Spires's buddy tale of overcoming obstacles and learning to manage expectations will likely find an appreciative audience, especially in a classroom setting." —Quill & Quire
Ashley Spires
Ashley Spires is the author and illustrator of many books including the bestselling The Most Magnificent Thing, The Thing Lou Couldn't Do and the Binky the Space Cat series. She is a drinker of tea, eater of candy and lover of animals. When she is not making books, she enjoys yoga, jogging and fostering orphan kittens for her local shelter. Ashley lives just outside Vancouver, British Columbia, with her dog and far too many felines.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Kids Can Press
Publication date
April 20, 2014
Most Magnificent
BISAC categories
JUV039050 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Emotions & Feelings
JUV051000 - Juvenile Fiction | Imagination & Play
JUV002070 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Dogs
Library of Congress categories
Virginia Readers Choice Award
Nominee 2016 - 2016
Buckaroo Book Award
Nominee 2014 - 2015
Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children
Recommended 2015 - 2015
Black-Eyed Susan Award
Nominee 2015 - 2016
Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens
Recommended 2015 - 2015

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