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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A full-hearted valentine.


A soaring panegyric to elementary school as a communal place to learn and grow.

“This is a kid,” Schu begins. “This is a kid in a class. This is a class in a hall….” If that class—possibly second graders, though they could be a year to either side of that—numbers only about a dozen in Jamison’s bright paintings, it makes up for that in diversity, with shiny faces of variously brown or olive complexion well outnumbering paler ones; one child using a wheelchair; and at least two who appear to be Asian. (The adult staff is likewise racially diverse.) The children are individualized in the art, but the author’s narrative is addressed more to an older set of readers as it runs almost entirely to collective nouns and abstract concepts: “We share. We help. / This is a community, growing.” Younger audiences will zero in on the pictures, which depict easily recognizable scenes of both individual and collective learning and play, with adults and classmates always on hand to help out or join in. Signs of conflict are unrealistically absent, but an occasional downcast look does add a bit of nuance to the general air of eager positivity on display. A sad face at an apartment window with a comment that “[s]ometimes something happens, and we can’t all be together” can be interpreted as an oblique reference to pandemic closings, but the central message here is that school is a physical space, not a virtual one, where learning and community happen. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A full-hearted valentine. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0458-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Did you like this book?