This book review is going to be a little different than my norm. Today I have two children’s picture books, The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do and The Most Magnificent Thing, both written by Canadian author Ashley Spires.
My children and I first read The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do. I enjoyed this picture book because even though I am an adult, I could identify with the main character, Lou. I think there is a little bit of Lou inside of all of us.
We first see Lou having fun participating in imaginative play with her best friends. The group decides to play something else and we learn that Lou is afraid because her friends suggest doing something that she has never tried to do before.
Lou does exactly what so many of us do when confronted with something new and unknown and scary: first, she tries to talk her friends into doing something else.
Next, she begins to concoct all kinds of excuses in order to not appear afraid or admit that she couldn’t do what the rest of her friends could. And finally, she convinces herself that she doesn’t want to do what the rest of the gang is doing.
Eventually, Lou faces her fear and tries but fails, like so many of us have done when trying something new. When her friends finally notice that she hasn’t joined them because she can’t climb a tree they kindly offer to help her, but instead, the group decides to play elsewhere.
As the story ends we see Lou revisiting what she is scared of and bravely attempting to try again.
I thought that this was a great story because each of us have things that we don’t know how to do or are afraid of doing.
Especially as kids, we don’t want to admit to fear or to not being able to do something that our friends can do. No one wants to be the odd man out or judged by our peers and often we try to make excuses or hide from the truth.
I asked my four-year-old daughter, Abby, what she thought the lesson we should take away from the story was. She replied, “Climbing trees is hard!”
I laughed and explained to her that I felt the book’s message was about confronting our fears and inabilities, even when it is difficult, and not giving up the moment that we do not succeed.
We read The Most Magnificent Thing last. I was excited to read this book, as I had seen several positive reviews.
In The Most Magnificent Thing, a little girl decides to make something. Not only a thing but the most magnificent thing. With the help of her canine assistant, she toils and tinkers until it is complete.
The girl decides that the thing she has made is not right so she starts over, creating multiple different versions. Each of her various creations just isn’t right though, because she can’t make what she envisions in her mind. The harder she tries, the angrier and frustrated the girl becomes.
Oh, boy, I think this story was written about me; this certainly sounds familiar…
After a much-needed break, the girl looks at her previous creations and realizes that even though they aren’t magnificent, each one has something that she likes and can use. She begins to tinker and toil again, not stopping until she finishes.
At last, the girl and her dog are happy with her invention. She has finally created the most magnificent thing.
As an artist, as a writer, as a cook, as an employee, as a parent, I can relate to the girl in the story and her frustration as she can clearly picture something amazing in her head but is unable to construct it, try after try. So often it is only after we step back and distance ourself from a problem can we put all the pieces together to make it just right.
I loved the illustrations in both books. While they have a simple style that matches the stories and isn’t too busy or bold to distract from the narrative, each has a certain quirky charm and the ability to visually express the feelings of the characters.
I and my kids enjoyed each book. I feel that they both contain important messages for kids. They are simple enough for kids to think about and understand without being outrageously obvious. I love children’s books like this because they give a story the ability to be read and reread, to be discussed, and to be learned from.
You can find out more about the author and also about Kids Can Press on their website: https://www.kidscanpress.com/creators/ashley-spires/680.
DISCLAIMER: I KINDLY RECEIVED THE BOOKS FROM THE PUBLISHER IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. I RECEIVED NO OTHER COMPENSATION FOR MY OPINION AND THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ABOVE ARE MINE AND THOSE OF MY FAMILY.
DETAILS ABOUT THE BOOKS:
The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication date: May 2, 2017
Length: 32 pages
Price: $11.56 on Amazon
The Most Magnificent Thing
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Length: 32 Pages
Price: $14.30 on Amazon
Have you read these books? I would love to hear your opinions!