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A cute book. I read it to my son. I also used it for a lesson plan in my Arts in Early Childhood class for college. A cute way to teach children to repurpose things and to not give up when you get discouraged.
Admittedly, it is rare for someone to gift us a book that is completely new to me… This year’s completely new-to-me book that we are THRILLED to have is Made by Maxine, by Ruth Spiro (you may already know her “Baby Loves Science” board books, like Baby Loves Coding!) and illustrated by Holly Hatam (who also illustrated Dear Girl). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Made by Maxine tells the story of Maxine, a young tinkerer, who “loves making new things… from old things.” But it is so much more than simply a story about a girl who builds, creates, and reinvents. This is also a story about perseverance and grit, about loyalty and friendship. While these themes are all directly addressed in the text, Made by Maxine never reads didactically; the messaging is direct but natural. Creating new things, learning from mistakes, and loving friends— what a trifecta of wonderful messages to send young readers! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Hatam’s illustrations are eye-catching and relatable for children. She includes detailed backgrounds on some pages, but on others, our eyes are drawn to Maxine’s creative process highlighted by a plain white background. My girls enjoy looking for Maxine’s mom and brother, who both show support for and pride in Maxine throughout the book. And, be sure to look carefully for photographs of real scientists taped to Maxine’s bedroom wall! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Publishers recommend this book for ages 4-8. Our 3-year-old has asked for this repeatedly since receiving it, and I can see this being used with a group of older girls to inspire engineering and design projects. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ If you liked this, check out: Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters: The Questioneers Book 1 by Andrea Beaty (chapter book— great for older readers) DOLL-E 1.0 by Shanda McCloskey Audrey the Amazing Inventor by Rachel Valentine The “Baby Loves Science” series by Ruth Spiro (great for younger readers)
Reviewed in the United States on November 21, 2018
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.
My son loves to use household items to build things! We have a craft box that is full of odds and ends we've collected over time. There are a few toilet paper rolls, plastic silverware, buttons, leftover yarn, rubber bands, and even a seashell or two. When we decide to do something crafty, the kids have quite the selection to choose from, and we always have fun with it. I love watching them work and seeing what their young minds come up with!
Made by Maxine was the perfect book for us! Maxine uses her imagination to create a very extravagant tank for her goldfish, which resulted in my son wanting to build something similar for our cat. I told him the story was supposed to be fun and encouraging, but that most children Maxine's age don't have access to all of the items she was using for her inventions (or have parents that would allow their children to break stuff for their personal use).
I'm really glad her parents (seen randomly throughout the book) seemed to be supportive, but I wish Maxine had been a little more responsible and less destructive with her actions. When her ideas didn't work out, there were a lot of broken pieces to contend with. I would have also liked to see more descriptions surrounding her inventions, and what she used to make them work. My son was fascinated when she used vegetables to make music, but there was no explanation describing how it functioned. Maybe little information bubbles at the bottom, or a page at the back?
The illustrations were fun and really made the story pop! I enjoyed all of the little details that will probably go unnoticed by younger readers, like a paper that said, "Think like a proton. Always positive." There's one page in the book where Maxine is laying on the floor drawing her ideas, and there are dozens of pages with images on them. Clearly, Holly Hatam put a lot of thought into her work! I also liked seeing all of the inventions around the house that weren't mentioned in the story.
Overall, Made by Maxine was a really enjoyable story that encourages children to use their imaginations. "If I can dream it, I can make it!" I think I would have liked it more if the thought bubbles for the fish had been left out. They were distracting and didn't really contribute to the story. Other than that... a lovely book!
Originally posted at Do You Dog-ear? on November 22, 2018.