I spotted “The Most Magnificent Thing” while doing research on children’s books that talked about the process of making, tinker, and creating. What a gem.
From the back cover:
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.
I thought it sounded perfect, and upon reading it, my suspicions were confirmed. My oldest has this new thing where if I suggest a book he is like “nah. let’s read this one.” so fun (not really, it drives me nuts, but we’re self-directed damn it, so I roll with it. He makes me sweat, this one.I’m pretty sure my back teeth are ground into nubs.) After we finished his book choice, I played my new game that goes something like this-
“well, this book came today, I ordered it because it looked really cool and thought you might be interested in it. I’m just going to sit here and read it. You don’t have to listen to it if you don’t want to, you can just keep playing. This book is about a little girl who really likes to make things. and this time she has decided to make the most awesome thing EVER. let me see what happens…”
I throw out a little intro to the story and then I just start reading. By the end of page one he is seated next to me checking out the pictures and asking questions.
See what I did there?
Back to the book. it’s an amazing addition to a young person’s library. It really shows the process of creativity, of that initial spark of an idea and the long hard journey of bringing it fruition. The easy parts like inspiration, looking for bits, as well as the hard parts-frustration, failed attempts at construction, disappointment when expectations of one’s own work fails to wow ones self.
A huge signal of a great book for kids, or for anyone for that matter, is that the reader can see themselves in, or relate to the characters in the book. I think this is crucial for children’s books as it helps young people to see themselves in connection with the greater world and as part of universal experiences. Everyone is frustrated, not just you is a super comforting concept for a five year old. And for a 40 year old.
This book has found a permanent spot on the book shelf next to our maker space. It’s presence assures us, as we glance at it’s cover in passing, or read it through one more time, that not every attempt at creation will end in greatness or satisfaction, but there is always something to learn, something to take away that will eventually end up as our masterpiece-that will end up exactly like we want it, even if we don’t quite know exactly what that looks like yet.
Now it’s off to work on the outdoor maker space and secret garden (pictures coming soon)…before it rains…again!