How does something become magnificent? One regular girl and her canine assistant work together to answer this question in Ashley Spires’ book, The Most Magnificent Thing (Kids Can Press).

One day, the girl has a wonderful idea. She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just what it will look like. 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 things turn out to be less than easy peasy when one after another, her creations are less than magnificent. This journey through the creative process rings particularly true for me. The idea that failure is a part of learning has become one of the most prominent themes within my classroom. I am forever reminding them that in order to become truly good at something, let alone magnificent, there will be a lot of uncomfortable moments. Moments where you look at the work you’ve poured yourself into and realize, well,  it’s just not that good. But it’s the moment after that counts. That brief second after you know that it isn’t quite right, that you can do better, that the idea you held in your mind didn’t quite manifest itself in the way you had hoped; it is in that second that you have a choice: you can head back to the drawing board, or close the door and quit.

She makes it fuzzy. She makes it long, short, rough, smooth, big, small – one even smells of stinky cheese! But none of them are MAGNIFICENT. Her hard work attracts a few admirers, but they don’t understand. They can’t see the MAGNIFICENT thing that she has in her mind. She gets MAD.

And then, she quits. Is this sounding familiar? We have all been pushed to this point. Frustrated that hard work doesn’t seem to be paying off, and that the road is bumpier than we would like, we quit. It is what happens next that makes The Most Magnificent Thing, truly magnificent. Our regular girl, with the magnificent idea, takes a walk with her canine assistant and stops at each non-magnificent thing. At each stop she discovers one magnificent element which, when all put together, creates a truly MAGNIFICENT thing.

This is the piece I believe we often forget, as teachers, parents, and frankly, as people. The fact that looking at what we have done, whether a success or not, gives us insight into how to shape what we can do. And what can do, can be most magnificent. Ashley Spires captures this perfectly with a charmingly illustrated story of one girl, one dog, and one MAGNIFICENT thing.

You can find your own copy of The Most Magnifient Thing at


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