Author/Illustrator: Ashley Spires
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
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The Most Magnificent Thing is a charming story about a "regular girl" and her pug, who is also her best friend in the whole world. One day this regular girl--who is referred to only as "she"--decides to build THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING. It's not clear until the end just WHAT the most magnificent thing IS, but it is clear that the girl and her "assistant" are working very hard to build it. It's also clear that it's not going well. Everything she tries is not quite right. After a while she gets mad and her brain is full of "not right things" until she has a tantrum and quits. Luckily her dog knows just how to help.
There was a lot about this book that I loved. First, I loved that it was a little girl building things. There's definitely a gender bias in a lot of children's books that has little boys building or playing with trucks or playing sports, and little girls drawing or baking or playing dress-up. So I always like it when a children's book doesn't just reinforce these stereotypes.
Second, I loved the buildup to the girl's tantrum because I think it's something a lot of little kids can relate to . Or at least their parents can. And I liked that she calmed down and figured it all out in the end.
One thing that Magda and I disagreed on was the girl's name (or lack thereof). I would have preferred if she and the dog had names, but Magda said she liked it that they didn't. She asked to read the book a second time, and this time she gave them names. It became the story of a regular girl named Amelia and her dog, Chap. Perfect!
About the Author:
I don't know much of Ashley Spires' other work. I haven't read the Binky books, for which I think she is best known. But she is the illustrator of The Red Shoes, by Eleri Glass, which is an absolute favourite in our house.