Words on a Limb Interviews Ashley Spires

ashleysWhether she is busy hacking her new book into a stylish bag, or demonstarting her flair for fashion, or buried in a heap of ideas embodied by her sketches, Ashley Spire’s artistic passion shines bright.

A few weeks ago, we picked up her latest picture book The Most Magnificent Thing and recognized that Ashley brings a fresh voice to children’s picture books; in this instance, sharing a story about perseverance and the value of imagination, mixing in some science, math and technology. Your little ones will love this story’s diminutive protagonist and her loyal assistant. The book is brimming with clever, engaging words and complemented by Ashley’s own charming artwork.

Ms. Spires has also authored the wildly successful Binky series, along with other picture book favourites like Larf. We reached out to this favourite Canadian author to learn more about and ultimately share her story as a writer and illustrator. After her whirlwind Library Tour, we finally caught up with her. Here is what we discovered.

What were you like in school growing up on the west coast?
I was constantly drawing. Every project had the most elaborate title pages! When my best friend and I passed notes, we weren’t writing about usual kid stuff, we were writing each other stories. Mine always had illustrations with them too.

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My Favourites – May 2014

GravatarMy recent visits to the library and bookstores have revealed a bountiful selection of rich children’s literature. I put together a list of some of my favourites. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. Please feel free to comment below each title and share your thoughts and opinions. Have a great weekend everyone.


The Most Magnificent ThingReaders pick
by Ashley Spires
Kids Can Press

Award-winning author and illustrator Ashley Spires has created a charming picture book about an unnamed girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. “She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. 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 making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and manages to get it just right. For the early grades’ exploration of character education, this funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. The girl’s frustration and anger are vividly depicted in the detailed art, and the story offers good options for dealing honestly with these feelings, while at the same time reassuring children that it’s okay to make mistakes. The clever use of verbs in groups of threes is both fun and functional, offering opportunities for wonderful vocabulary enrichment. The girl doesn’t just “make” her magnificent thing — she “tinkers and hammers and measures,” she “smoothes and wrenches and fiddles,” she “twists and tweaks and fastens.” These precise action words are likely to fire up the imaginations of youngsters eager to create their own inventions and is a great tie-in to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.


Whimsy’s Heavy ThingsReaders pick

by Julie Kraulis
Tundra Books

Whimsy’s heavy things are weighing her down. She tries to sweep them under the rug, but she trips over them. She tries to put them in a tree, but they fall on her. She even tries to sail them out to sea, but they always come back. Eventually Whimsy decides to deal with the heavy things one at a time… and a surprising thing happens. With exquisite illustrations and delightfully simple text, Whimsy’s Heavy Things is a sweet story about changing the things that weigh us down into the things that lift us up. Continue reading