The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires


The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires (Kids Can Press, April 2014) is a STEM book. (For those not in the “know,” as I was not until recently, STEM is educational slang for something relating to Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mechanics.) A creative girl heads out to make the “magnificent thing,” but cannot seem to get it right for quite a while. Trial and error, experimentation. She keeps going. It is not easy, and finally she succeeds!

I loved how the author-illustrator included multiple pictures per page. You can see the girl’s growing frustration as she works, creates, and starts anew. I also enjoyed how we could see her creations throughout the story, but we could never quite see what she was making until the very end. Her facial expressions can show the reader (and young STEM workers) that creation takes lots of work, lots of mistakes, and lots of concentration. She had a great idea, but it took quite a while to get to her finished “magnificient thing.”

I see lots of educational value in this book for schools, but I also believe it is a strong, fun story with clever illustrations. Non-readers can still enjoy it by reviewing the pictures. This will be a winner with kids, for sure!

Note: I received a digital copy for review consideration.

Recipes for Play by Rachel Sumner and Ruth Mitchener

I am a mother that is not comfortable with mess. I don’t like noise or chaos either. And yet, I’m learning to adapt.

In fact, when I read Recipes for Play by Rachel Sumner and Ruth Mitchener (The Experiment, September 2014), I started actually getting excited about trying out some of the activities and crafts mentioned.

I’m a homeschooling mom. Another thing I never intended to do, and yet here I am. Homeschooling gets me out of my comfort-zone many times a day.

As I read Recipes for Play, which is full of play-crafts for young kids and mothers to easily recreate in their homes, I started to think of the many ways I could tie the suggested crafts in to our daily routine: some of them could be adapted for a homeschool lesson. Another one could keep my littlest one busy while I get a chance to over the math assignment with my son. The possibilities got me excited.Continue Reading

Nest by Esther Ehrlich

Nest by Esther Ehrlich (Random House Children’s Books; published today!) is an emotionally charged novel about a young girl facing stark change after her mother develops a serious disease. Naomi, “Chirp” to her family and friends, is a bird-loving sixth grader on Cape Cod in the early 1970s. Her life is full of nature and her loving family. As her family struggles with her mother’s degenerative condition, she must grow up faster than she intended. Continue Reading

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka (Abrams, August 2014) is a bizarre and amusing story about a boy scientist named Frank Einstein who, with his best friend sidekick and two intelligent robots, is determined to win his science fair project. Of course with a grandfather named Al Einstein (no, not that one but still…), Frank’s project is destined to be the best of them all! Or will it? His arch nemesis is determined to stop him. Continue Reading