Ashley Spires has written and illustrated an adorable, simple book with big impact and a message that matters.
Who doesn't experience feelings of failure, frustration and insurmountable obstacles?
The author knows this is a universal feeling and she does something amazing by not naming her main character but instead introduces her as "a regular girl". She could be any of us. We can all relate. This simple detail makes us root for her and (in rooting for her) we root for ourselves and subtly learn a life lesson in innovation.
The main character just wants to build the most Magnificent thing. She makes plans. Her dog assists. However, when her plans go awry she has a decision to make. Will she quit her goal or succeed against all odds?
This is an excellent book for children and sets an exceptional example especially for young girls.
Take a minute to watch the book trailer:
Aren't the characters just precious? I love her spunk. I have classified this book under both character and life skills categories because I believe it teaches the importance of perseverance, a crucial character trait that is very valuable in life. Perseverance and flexibility are life skills worth teaching at a young age and The Most Magnificent Thing is a sweet way of doing it.
Order your copy on Amazon ($4.49 Kindle/ $15.18 Hardcover) and then be sure to check out the free Teaching Guide that uses the book to teach students (grades 1-12) how to identify and organize their goals, observe social barriers and push through, apply perseverance strategies, think creatively and operate like engineers. Assignments are created at different age levels and vary in difficulty. It's a very good resource for expanding the learning opportunity of this book.
The author also encourages children to create something of their own and invites them to use #makesomething to show off their creations.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Most Magnificent Thing from Kids Can Press via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
I give this book five stars
Recently I found a beautifully illustrated copy of Kate Greenaway's Marigold Garden. My copy was printed by Fredrick Warne & CO LTD. which makes it even more special to me.
If you didn't know, Fredrick Warne &CO was the same publishing house who took on Beatrix Potter and gave her her first big break.
I was already familiar with Kate Greenaway's artistic style. I'd seen several of her illustrations and fallen in love with her soft muted color pallet and the gentle childhood expressions she put on the faces she painted. These expressions she created always seemed to float between innocence, peaceful resolve and slight boredom. I couldn't tell if the child was as pure as the driven snow, content beyond words or bored out of its mind. Still, these quiet images soothed me.
If this artist is new to you, I know you will enjoy reading and viewing free examples of her beautiful artwork and poetry here.
I knew that I liked Kate Greenaway's style and that she was an English artist and illustrator who lived in the Victorian period, but I didn't know much more about her. You can read a brief bio here. That was all I knew about her.
I didn't know was that Kate Greenaway was a pivotal influence on needlework. I learned later that many of the red work sunbonnet sue patterns that are common on children's quilts are actually inspired by her.
Even though I don't sew, this new information sent me on a massive hunt for Kate Greenaway red work patterns. It's never to late to learn a new skill right?
I found a cross stitch pattern, iron on transfers, and a cheap copy of a hard cover book of patterns.
But I still didn't know how to sew, or stitch or embroider or . . . .
Then I found this amazing site that has a primer with pdf lessons in stitches and free samplers.
I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but that is when the light bulb clicked on. This would make a wonderful life skill to teach my daughter!
And . . .
I could even tie it into our current living book. In Hetty Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field, young Phoebe is learning to do stitch work as a hobby, she was also made to work a more challenging sampler as punishment for her misbehavior.
This new life skill would tie my daughter to the character and bond them together through personal experience. I would be giving her a richer connection to the book and pulling her into the story.
Another great embroidery site primer can be found here.
This great site is also bubbling over with information on red work.
Would you rather start small?
This site has beautiful free samplers for beginners- advanced. After reviewing the pdf primer lessons together with your child and developing confidence in your stitches, maybe consider allowing your child to choose their pattern themselves. This creative choice might inspire them.
Also, if you're really brave, you can follow in the footsteps of Victorian young ladies who made their own patterns. Here is a site that will teach their method for making perforated patterns.
As you begin learning this skill, remember to take some relaxing time snuggled up on a couch together reading Kate's poetry. As the pages turn, allow the warm images and the quiet beauty of childhood to invite you back in time.
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