How To Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion

Make Me a World. Apr. 2020. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524773274.
K-Gr 3–A teen rock-climbing star describes how she approaches a climb, mapping it out one step at a time. Olympic-hopeful Ashima Shiraishi addresses readers directly, explaining that climbers call the rocks they face “problems.” Her first-person narration is relatively simple, often featuring a single line on a page. Shiraishi describes facing one difficult climb, breaking it down into familiar steps and using similes to identify each distinctive part. She climbs, falls, and climbs again “with the new information / the fall had given me.” This New York–born, Japanese American phenom is given a heroic treatment in digital illustrations by illustrator Xiao. The cover showcases Shiraishi hanging by her fingertips, almost flying, against a backdrop of sky and mountain. Early spreads showcase her climbs in Central Park before attempting the challenge at the heart of her story. After tracing her path up the rock, Xiao depicts Shiraishi reaching for a path through the stars. A final spread repeats the night sky motif with a more detailed history of her accomplishments through age 15. Publisher Christopher Myers introduces this teen author and athlete as someone who is “one of the best in the world at what she does” but with a secret superpower: “the ability to try again after failing.”
VERDICT A well-told story that could be an inspiration to young readers.

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