Review: The Most Magnificent Thing

The Most Magnificent Thing
by Ashley Spires
Published by Kids Can Press (April 1, 2014)
Ages 3-7

My Rating: 4 stars

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires is a story of perseverance and a lesson in gaining perspective and understanding difficult emotions.

A regular girl, with the help of her best friend, sets out to create the most magnificent thing. She has a vision in her head of what that looks like, but she keeps creating things that just aren’t right. Frustration starts to take hold of her, and it grows into anger. She starts to smash things together trying to make things work, until finally she smashes her finger and explodes with anger, ready to quit. Her faithful companion (yes, a dog), convinces her to take a walk. She starts to cool off, and when she returns to the spot with all of her failed attempts she notices all of the perfect pieces in each failure. So, she gets back to work to create the most magnificent thing.

The Most Magnificent Thing was recommended to me because I am a big fan of Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty. (Read my review of that book here.) They certainly have similarities: a girl engineer character and a message of perseverance. Yet, each has its own unique lesson conveyed in the plot. The Most Magnificent Thing features an important modeling of how to calm down when you are angry and not seeing things clearly. It introduces the practical solution of walking away from a frustration for a short period of time to gain perspective on the problem –  a solution that many adults fail to recognize and use. Children feel tough emotions, such as anger, but often don’t understand them well enough yet to apply coping mechanisms. Through parental guidance, life experience and reading, children eventually learn how their behaviors play a role in their emotions. Books like The Most Magnificent Thing, which allow a child to put themselves into the shoes of the main character and walk through tough emotions without being wrapped up in them, are excellent tools for developing emotional intelligence.

The Most Magnificent Thing is also a visually appealing picture book. The main character, her friend and her inventions are set in bright color against black-and-white line drawings of a city street or sometimes nothing at all. It helps the reader focus on the emotions being felt by the little girl, as well as the comic relief provided by the companion.

Do you have a favorite book for teaching emotional coping skills? Is there one book in particular that helped you or helped your child with a difficult emotion? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.

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