The Greatest Mistakes That Went Right (Maddy Mara, illus by Cheryl Orsini, Affirm Press)
Many kids are afraid to try new things because they are scared of not getting it right the first time; niggling insecurities and latent perfectionism can often mean they miss out on the joy of discovery and learning for its own sake. The Greatest Mistakes That Went Right acknowledges this fear in sing-song rhyme: ‘Are you in a hurry to wonder and worry/That new things you try won’t go right?/When they simply don’t work, don’t go all berserk/Mistakes can grow wings and take flight.’ Maddy Mara soothes such concerns by making it feel like these fumbles in life are perfectly normal and that there’s always a way out of the maze. She reminds us that humans have made many blunders before achieving greatness. For example, Alexander Fleming’s failed experiments created penicillin: ‘A dish full of mould turned to medical gold.’ The book features some cute accidental inventions that will appeal to kids, such as the slinky, the colour mauve and even Play-Doh. Cheryl Orsini’s illustrations are suitably bright and fun, encouraging young ones to get mucky instead of fearing failure or mess. This is a great picture book, inspiring early and pre-primary schoolers to ponder that they may well discover the next big thing through trial and error.
Thuy On is reviews editor of ArtsHub and a freelance arts journalist, critic and poet.