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

HOW TO SOLVE A PROBLEM

THE RISE (AND FALLS) OF A ROCK-CLIMBING CHAMPION

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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Precious—but timely and comforting all the same.

WHILE WE CAN'T HUG

From the Hedgehog and Tortoise Story series

The two creatures who fulfilled each other’s yearning for physical contact in The Hug (2019) find alternative ways to connect in a time of social distancing.

Blushing and smiling and looking every bit as sweet as they did in their original meet-cute, Hedgehog and Tortoise respond to Owl’s reassurance that “there are lots of ways to show someone you love them” by standing on opposing pages and sending signals, letters, dances, air kisses, and songs across the gutter. Demonstrating their mutual love and friendship, they regard each other fondly across the gap through sun and storm, finally gesturing air hugs beneath a rainbow of colors and stars. “They could not touch. / They could not hug. // But they both knew / that they were loved.” In line with the minimalist narrative and illustrations there is no mention of the enforced separation’s cause nor, aside from the titular conjunction, any hint of its possible duration. Still, its core affirmation is delivered in a simple, direct, unmistakable way, and if the thematic connection with the previous outing seems made to order for a marketing opportunity, it does address a widespread emotional need in young (and maybe not so young) audiences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 78% of actual size.)

Precious—but timely and comforting all the same. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-5713-6558-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it.

HOW DO DINOSAURS SHOW GOOD MANNERS?

From the How Do Dinosaurs…? series

A guide to better behavior—at home, on the playground, in class, and in the library.

Serving as a sort of overview for the series’ 12 previous exercises in behavior modeling, this latest outing opens with a set of badly behaving dinos, identified in an endpaper key and also inconspicuously in situ. Per series formula, these are paired to leading questions like “Does she spit out her broccoli onto the floor? / Does he shout ‘I hate meat loaf!’ while slamming the door?” (Choruses of “NO!” from young audiences are welcome.) Midway through, the tone changes (“No, dinosaurs don’t”), and good examples follow to the tune of positive declarative sentences: “They wipe up the tables and vacuum the floors. / They share all the books and they never slam doors,” etc. Teague’s customary, humongous prehistoric crew, all depicted in exact detail and with wildly flashy coloration, fill both their spreads and their human-scale scenes as their human parents—no same-sex couples but some are racially mixed, and in one the man’s the cook—join a similarly diverse set of sibs and other children in either disapprobation or approving smiles. All in all, it’s a well-tested mix of oblique and prescriptive approaches to proper behavior as well as a lighthearted way to play up the use of “please,” “thank you,” and even “I’ll help when you’re hurt.”

Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-36334-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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