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Made by Maxine

Author: Ruth Spiro
Lower Age: 4
Upper Age: 8
Year Added: 2019

Made by Maxine, a hardcover book written by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Holly Hatam, is meant for young readers ages 4 to 8. The story is about a little girl named Maxine, who liked to help her friends and family by taking old things and rebuilding them into new inventions. One day, her teacher wanted to do a pet parade. Since Maxine’s pet, Milton, was a goldfish, she had to invent a way to let him march in the parade. After repeatedly trying and failing, she finally got a machine working and marched happily in the parade with Milton.


In the book, Maxine exemplifies several engineering skills, using creative thinking to imagine how her new inventions could make the world better, going through the problem solving process to plan her solution and employing design skills to develop her inventions throughout the book. As an example for young engineers, she teaches perseverance and curiosity, and as part of the book’s message, she shows young engineers that they can build anything they want with a little imagination and things they find lying around the house. Made by Maxine is a short but well-crafted picture book for children who love thinking of new ways to solve problems.



Engineering thinking and design practices the gift encourages children to do or learn about:

Idea generation, Plan a solution, Create a prototype or process, Make improvements to the solution


Engineering text or context explicitly provided by the gift: 

A problem to be solved by developing a new or improved object, tool, or process


Additional practices and skills needed by engineers that were addressed by the gift:

Design, Problem Solving, Perseverance


Overall ratings:

  • Children Reviews

    • Rating:  4.0 out of 5.0

  • Engineering & STEM Experts Reviews

    • Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0

    • Feedback:

      • "The books show a lot of making improvements to a solution and idea generation. It is a good book to see how to use household materials to create something new and functional."

      • I really liked this book because it really shows trial and error, how failure can lead you to success. It also shows how you can create anything with only the things that are in your home. It shows perseverance, to never give up, and to always believe you can do anything.”