The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do

TItle: The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do
Author/Illustrator: Ashley Spires
Published: Kids Can Press, 2017

I’m a huge fan of The Most Magnificent Thing. We have a copy of it on our shelves, and my girls ask for it all the time. Vivi in particular relates strongly to the little girl trying to make the most perfect invention. (Vivi loves inventing things. This summer, she’s built a fabulous…something…that apparently has over 20 uses! Among them: distracting children, preventing children from jumping on beds, and cleaning the carpet.)

Anyway. We’re Ashley Spires fans, is what I’m saying.

(Fun fact: she’s Canadian! Woot!)

When I saw The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do, I immediately added it to my hold list. We picked it up yesterday and I brought it out during snack time this afternoon (the girls eat, I read to them). I held it up and said, “Where have you seen this art before?” Vivi immediately said, “It’s the author/illustrator of The Most Magnificent Thing! Also, we read that book at school already. But it’s really good, so feel free to read it now.”

So I did.

The story follows the adventurous Lou and her band of equally adventurous friends. On this particular day, they decide to be pirates and climb a tree (their boat). The thing is, Lou isn’t really all that comfortable with tree climbing.

Check that, she’s actually super uncomfortable.

After coming up with a few (not-so-believable) excuses as to why she can’t possibly climb the tree, she decides to just give it a shot.

She huffs and puffs and…ends up about two feet off the ground. She promptly falls off the trunk.

Her friends make sure she’s OK. Lou decides that she just can’t climb the tree. Yet.

Instead, they all head over to the park and play there.

Lou isn’t a quitter, though, and she’s sure she’ll be back to try tree-climbing again soon (maybe tomorrow).

Let me just say two things:

  1. Lou, I feel you. I totally understand your reluctance to climb trees. As an extremely non-athletic, left-handed klutz, I am on your side. Trees are tall. And falling out of them hurts.
  2. That said, I respect your tenacity. You do you, girl. Keep at it.

I love this about Ashley Spires’ characters. They don’t just give up (even if they REALLY want to). In The Most Magnificent Thing, the girl just kept building and building until she ended up with something kind of close to what she wanted. In this book, Lou knows she’ll give tree-climbing another shot. And that’s the other thing: Ms. Spires’ characters are realistic. Kids don’t always build things perfectly. They ARE frustrated when the thing in their head doesn’t look like the thing in front of them. Kids ARE annoyed by their inability to climb the tree, when all their friends can.

And the stories end with hope, but again, with realism. Everything ISN’T perfect or solved. It’s a work-in-progress.

As for the art, it’s great. Lou and her friends are adorable, and my daughter seriously wanted a cat that looks like the one in the book.

We will definitely be getting a copy of this one for our shelves!

Mama’s review: A
Vivi’s review: “I like Ashley Spires’ work. What else has she done? Also, A+.”
Lily’s review: “I like that she (Lou) is a girl!”

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