I’m a big fan of Ashley Spires: her quirky, adorable illustrations perfectly match her multi-faceted, amusing, and relatable characters. Her new picture book, The Most Magnificent Thing, is an ode to perseverance and resilience, and it’s as sweet and fun as her plethora of other awesome books for young readers.
This picture book stars a “regular girl” and her doggie sidekick, who also happens to be her “best friend in the whole wide world.” They do a lot of making and unmaking together, until “one day, the girl has a wonderful idea. She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing!” The illustrations will keep young listeners guessing as the girl plots, plans, and begins to build her magnificent thing. Of course, things don’t go exactly as she had hoped, and she ends up with a whole lot of objects that are not quite right. After hours of work, her frustration gets the better of her and she becomes quite furious and decides to “quit.” When she comes back to her project after a walk with her dog, things are looking a whole lot rosier. She begins to notice that her failed experiments weren’t really such failures after all, and she finally sees her magnificent thing through–with great results.
Even for the youngest audience, trying and failing might be familiar, and the little girl’s story is one that we’ve all experienced at one point or another. Although the heroine gains quite a crowd of admirers for her tenacity, she still needs to take a break. Her focus on getting things right proves both frustrating and rewarding, though, when she finally completes her project. The idea that failure can lead to success is a really important one, and a hard thing to grasp in the throes of trying to do something difficult. Ashley Spires has captured something universal here; her “regular girl” shows us the trick to realizing one’s vision even when things get tough. It’s a lesson that I find myself learning time and again, and this is the sort of book that illustrates it in an expressive and accessible way. The little girl gets what she wanted through hard work and extraordinary creativity, and shows us that although creating isn’t always “easy-peasy,” it can be totally worth it. What a magnificent book!