Perfect Picture Book Friday looks at The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires, a story about never giving up no matter how many failures come.
Back when I was about ten years old, I colored a picture of a field of flowers for my room. I drew some teeny-tiny blooms and some enormous ones. I gave each flower unique petals, shapes, and colors – no two were alike. I worked until I had filled the field with the happiest flowers I could imagine. Then, I ran to show it to my mother, eager for her praise and pretty sure I had earned lots of it for my masterpiece!
Note: My mother was a scientific illustrator at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois.
Does anyone see where this is going?
Picture me dashing into the kitchen, clutching my drawing, and putting off as much enthusiasm as Charlie Bucket did when he found the golden ticket, wrapped inside a Wonka bar.
My mother smoothed out my drawing and studied it. I watched her eyes sweep over my art as she took in the beauty of each of my carefully executed blossoms and my impressive array of colors.
“Well?” I begged. “What do you think?”
Mom pointed to a yellow flower with spiky petals. “What kind of flower is this one?”
“That’s a daisy,” I said, “and that blue one is a daisy, too. This red one is rose, of course. And that hairy, pink one is a clover. And that orange one is a marigold. Over here, I drew a lilac bush, and in that corner is a tulip. And look,” I said, my enthusiasm nearly pushing the roof off of our house, “I even drew a cactus exactly like the ones we saw in Arizona on vacation last summer!”
“And all these flowers are growing where?” Mom asked.
“In a big field.”
“And where is this big field?” Mom pressed.
“Here,” I said, holding up my picture. “Right here.”
“Well, if that’s so,” Mom said, “this picture could never exist anywhere. In real nature, these plants wouldn’t grow in the same place. If you want to draw an accurate picture of flowers, you can look them up in one of my botany books by region and season.” She handed the picture back to me.
I walked to my room and drew a picture of a flower–one flower. On another sheet of paper, I drew a different kind of flower. By the end of the day, I had drawn lots of flowers. I pinned them next to each other because, in my room, anything I could imagine was possible.
The Most Magnificent Thing
Written and illustrated by- Ashley Spires
Published by- Kids Can Press – 2014
Topics – Determination, imagination, and persistence.
Opening – This is a regular girl and her best friend in the whole wide world. They do all kinds of things together. They race. They eat. They explore. They relax. She makes things. He unmakes things. One day, the girl has a wonderful idea. She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing!
(Seriously long) Synopsis from Amazon – 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. For the early grades’ exploration of character education, this funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. The girl’s frustration and anger are vividly depicted in the detailed art, and the story offers good options for dealing honestly with these feelings, while at the same time reassuring children that it’s okay to make mistakes. The clever use of verbs in groups of threes is both fun and functional, offering opportunities for wonderful vocabulary enrichment. The girl doesn’t just “make” her magnificent thing — she “tinkers and hammers and measures,” she “smoothes and wrenches and fiddles,” she “twists and tweaks and fastens.” These precise action words are likely to fire up the imaginations of youngsters eager to create their own inventions and is a great tie-in to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
Why do I like this book? Kids need to learn not to give up at the first sign of failure, and this story provides the perfect example of how trying, again and again, can lead to success. This story also shows that taking a close look at “why” something failed can lead to better results. The specific areas Ashley Spires chose to color in the illustrations keeps the focus on what is important in each scene. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best), I give this book a solid 10!
Learn more about the author/illustrator, Ashley Spires HERE.
A writer’s prompt: Write about a something you made that took many, many, many tries to get right.
Until next Friday.