About the Holiday
Perhaps April was chosen as Inventor’s Month because the blossoms of early spring echo the flourish of ideas that come from fertile minds. This month honors all the men and women throughout history who dared to think differently and changed the world. Today, that proud tradition continues in the excitement of school labs and classrooms, through online courses and computer technology, and in private homes where people of all ages are pondering and creating the next big thing. If you have a knack for innovation or invention, take time to sit down and work on your ideas today.
The Most Magnificent Thing
By Ashley Spires
A little pony-tailed girl and her puppy do everything together. They race, eat, explore, and relax. When she makes things, her best friend unmakes them. One day the girl has a brilliant idea—she is going to make “the most MAGNIFICENT thing!” In her mind it’s going to be “easy-peasy.” She knows exactly how it will look and how it will work.
With her faithful assistant following at her heels, the girl gathers materials and goes to work on the sidewalk outside her home. The girl “tinkers and hammers and measures” while her assistant “pounces and growls and chews.” When the little invention is finished, they stand back to examine it. Hmmm…it doesn’t look quite right. It doesn’t feel quite right either. In fact it is all wrong! The girl tries again.
She “smooths and wrenches and fiddles” while her assistant “circles and tugs and wags.” It still turns out wrong. Determined to make her vision reality, she gives it another go…and another…and another. She makes her invention different shapes, gives it various textures, measures out assorted sizes. One attempt even smells like stinky cheese! But none of these creations are MAGNIFICENT.
People stop by and offer encouraging—even admiring—remarks, but the little girl just gets mad. Can’t they see how wrong her invention is? In her anger the little girl works at a fevered pitch, shoving parts together, her brain fogged by “all the not-right things.” In her haste she hurts her finger. This is the last straw. She explodes and declares that she QUITS!
The ever-watchful assistant suggests a bit of fresh air. The girl takes her puppy for a walk and at first her feelings of defeat stay with her. Little by little, though, she pays attention to the world around her and her mind clears. Coming home, she encounters all the wrong things she has made lined up on the sidewalk. Her disappointment threatens to return, but then she notices something surprising—there are parts of each iteration that she likes!
After studying each earlier attempt, she knows just what to do! Slowly and carefully she once more begins to tinker. At the end of the day she and her assistant stand back to look. The machine may lean a bit, and be a little heavy, and it may need a coat of paint…but as the girl and her puppy climb aboard, they both agree that “it really is THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING!”
You are never too young or too old for Ashley Spires’ inspiring and inspired story. The journey from idea to realization—so often fraught with disaster (or apparent disaster)—is depicted here honestly and with humor as the on-going process it is. Step-by-step the little girl thinks, gathers materials, tinkers, discovers, tinkers some more, and triumphs. It is this last step that is so “magnificently” presented—it’s only by not giving up that success can be achieved.
Spires’ tale is a delight of language—the girl “smooths, wrenches, fiddles, twists, tweaks, and fastens, pummels, jams, and smashes.” Likewise, her illustrations wonderfully depict the changing emotions of this thoughtful, steely-eyed, shocked, and ultimately thrilled young inventor. Her faithful puppy is a charming companion and foil, and kids will love examining the early inventions that lead up to the final product.
The Most Magnificent Thing is a fabulous book to keep on any child’s or adult’s bookshelf for those times when inspiration hits but achievement seems elusive.
Ages 3 – 7 and up (creative types of all ages will enjoy this book)
Kids Can Press, 2014 | ISBN 978-155453704
National Inventor’s Month Activity
Inventor’s Tool Kit
Every idea begins as a jumble of seemingly unrelated parts. Gathering whatever types of material inspires you and keeping it in a box ready to go when inspiration hits is a great way to support innovation and spark experimentation.
- Small parts organizer with drawers or compartments, available at hardware stores and craft stores
- A variety of parts or craft materials that can be combined, built with, or built on
- Some hardware ideas—pulleys, wheels, small to medium pieces of wood, wire, nuts, bolts, screws, hooks, knobs, hinges, recyclable materials
- Some craft ideas—clay, beads, wooden pieces, sticks, paints, pipe cleaners, string, spools, buttons, glitter, scraps of material, recyclable materials
- Fill the organizer with the materials of your choice
- Let your imagination go to work! Build something cool, crazy, silly, useful—Amazing!