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Readinvent this book

spires_most magnificent thingThe urge to write in your books never really goes away, does it? For the older generation, it manifests as underlining and annotating. For the younger crowd, it might be taking attendance for a pretend classroom in your Lion King book during naptime. Maybe. Possibly. I definitely wouldn’t know, because I was a respectful, rule-following child. I promise.

Luckily, when Ashley Spires’s The Most Magnificent Thing (Kids Can Press, April 2014) and its accompanying “Hack This Book!” activity box showed up in the office, following rules wasn’t going to be a problem. There were no rules! Instead I opened the box to find a destructible, paper copy of the book, pipe cleaners and other assorted craft supplies, and a littleBits engineering kit (complete with a battery, some circuits and connectors, and various doodads and whirligigs that when attached to the battery spun, lit up, or made noise).

The Most Magnificent Thing follows a girl and her dog as they collect materials, draw up plans, make prototypes, and try and fail and try again to make something truly magnificent. In that spirit, this activity provided fellow intern Jill and I with plenty of supplies to turn our copy of this book into something amazing. The activity version of the book had some of the dialogue and illustrations removed so that we could write, glue, snap, crackle, pop, and draw to the best of our abilities. We played madlibs with the dialogue. We broke popsicle sticks and finagled hole punches. We colored and we feathered and tried very, very hard but we couldn’t always make the glue dots work. All creative processes have glitches.

book hack spread

The best part, though, came at the very end, when we were able to engineer a gizmo that could turn the book’s pages. The mechanical part did take us a little while, though. While it didn’t require much more skill than basic common sense to figure out the engineering kit, the instructions probably could have been a little clearer. (Or maybe we’re just too far removed from our middle school science projects.) Much like the protagonist of The Most Magnificent Thing, we had some trial and error, and we had to scavenge for some supplies from the office. Regardless, we were able to take our de-/re-constructed book and introduce a little mechanical flourish to it.

book hack page turn

The project, I must say, resulted in pure, unadulterated glee. Check out other “hacked” Magnificent Thing books at



  1. Can you please provide a little more information on how exactly you presented the program? I would love to try this at my library as we begin more “maker” activities for children and adults.

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