I think it’s really fun when stories encourage kids to be inventive and exercise their problem-solving skills. (See: all the parts in the Series of Unfortunate Events when Violet Baudelaire tied back her hair into a ponytail and got to work inventing something.) In the spirit of that creativity, today I want to recommend the picture book The Most Magnificent Thing, by Ashley Spires. I got to read this book aloud to a group of kids when I was volunteering with an afterschool program, and I was just as delighted by the plot, illustrations, bits of visual humor, and ending as they were. Magnificent Thing features “a regular girl” who likes to make things. One day, she has an idea for “the most magnificent thing” and sets to work making it. She wrenches, smooths, cuts, trims, glues, hammers, nails, measures, etc., while her “assistant” (adorable dog) tries to be as helpful as possible by tugging, wagging, growling, pouncing, etc. The trouble is, the thing keeps turning out not right. For anyone who has ever been frustrated when they can’t turn the plans in their head into a reality, the emotions that the girl expresses here will surely resonate. (The book’s dedication is to “for all the little perfectionists of the world,” which I thought was spot-on. The author clearly knows what it’s like to want to get something just right and keep trying and trying.)
I love the book’s message about creativity and perseverance. The girl’s journey of invention is so true to life; getting frustrated, trying again, taking some parts and dumping others, needing a new perspective. Spires’ narration keeps the process from becoming too cerebral, though, and the dog’s antics especially lighten the mood. (I read it through one whole time just focusing on the dog. And giggled a lot.) At times the illustration style reminded me of Eloise; Spires does a great job of conveying many types of action on one page and keeping the story moving along. I think this book would be a great encouragement to kids who maybe have a little bit of that perfectionist gene, as well as those who just like to explore and make things and be inventive. It’s a great reminder of the values and challenges of perseverance, and I’m so glad I discovered it!
Other great picture books around the theme of perseverance:
The Little Engine that Could
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems
Rosy Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
Brave Irene by William Steig
Do you have a favorite to add? Leave a note in the comments!