Both a riveting narrative and an excellent guide for young readers to try, try again.




A philosophy for life, built word by word, hold by hold, climb by climb.

Japanese American teen rock-climbing champion Shiraishi narrates the story of how she navigated one of her biggest climbs with patience, perseverance, and creativity. Problems, whether on rock or in life, can look “tremendously endless” to anyone, even Ashima, depicted here as a 13-year-old. But when she compares individual holds to the shape of her mother’s bolts of fabric or of her father’s elbow in a dance, she connects with the route, finding her way up the rock. However, her ascent isn’t perfect, and her first fall is depicted, boldly, on a vertical double-page spread. She “listens” to the climb, regroups with her father’s help, and approaches the rock with renewed mental and physical strength. Her summit, illustrated in a strong, striking pose—arms spread wide, fingers gripping the rock—portrays the perseverance, reflection, and tenacity Ashima demonstrates in every climb. Backmatter both narrates and visually depicts the author’s rise through the annals of climbing, including her completion of a formidable boulder problem, the first woman to do so. Vivid, clean-lined illustrations by debut artist Xiao immerse readers in sweeping, earth-toned vistas of rock and sky that form Ashima’s world. Lively endpapers show Ashima in various body positions common to the sport of rock climbing.

Both a riveting narrative and an excellent guide for young readers to try, try again. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7327-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Make Me a World

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Heartwarming and illuminating.


Life in a snowy northern town, from a child’s perspective and written both in Inuktitut and English

One-story houses in multiple colors sit close together beneath a cloudy blue sky, their roofs covered with snow. A little girl sits on a large metallic tube looking straight ahead. “Sitting on an elephant, always remembering what my mom said.” The next picture pulls back for a wider view; the girl is on an oil drum or water tank. Below her are some nondescript buildings and two children riding bicycles on a quiet rural road. The book’s text is a reflective poem. Stanzas end with the repeated line, “Only in my hometown.” Inside the house, so many children are playing that care needs to be taken to avoid stepping on their toys. Nearby four women share a feast of raw meat, in which the little girl is delighted to partake. Outside, blizzards can last for weeks, covering everything with snow. And then the darkness comes, enveloping the region. The northern lights dance. Everyone can be called family “in my hometown.” The sister collaborators work in harmony. Angnakuluk Friesen’s poetic text is fluid and evocative, and Ippiksaut Friesen’s illustrations, painted with watercolor and acrylic “on elephant poo paper,” then composited digitally, are lovely works of folk art. Inuktitut is rendered both in its own symbology and Romanized.

Heartwarming and illuminating. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498-883-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Though the text works hard to convey it, getting an aesthetic sense of Cassatt’s famous body of work will require another...



Starting in childhood, impressionist artist Mary Cassatt carves her own path.

Mary grows up “tall and temperamental,” absolutely set on being an artist despite the 1860s social mores dictating that “proper girls weren’t artists. They had polite hobbies—flower arranging, needlepoint.” She attends art school and goes to Paris, sitting in the Louvre to copy the old masters. Connecting with Edgar Degas gives her a community that supports her independent streak: “We paint as we please. We break the judges’ rules.” Herkert’s bold phrasing—“Mary swept jewel tones across her canvas”—implies artistic zest. However, despite varied media (gouache, watercolor, acrylic, enamel, and tempera), Swiatkowska’s illustrations don’t match the text’s descriptions. A spread of “canary yellow, radiant pink, vibrant blue” shows no yellow at all (tan instead) and pleasant but low-intensity blue and pink. “Brilliant tones” and “lightning bolts of white” are narrated but not shown. Skin tones and backgrounds lean toward gray. Readers sophisticated enough to appreciate sentences like “she rendered cropped angles” will notice how much more is told than shown, including the fact that Cassatt is portrayed actually painting only once. Regrettably, Asian art is labeled “exotic.”

Though the text works hard to convey it, getting an aesthetic sense of Cassatt’s famous body of work will require another source. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-016-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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