Bound To Stay Bound

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School Library Journal - 02/01/2020 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.—Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MD - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

Booklist - 02/15/2020 Free solo climbers refer to boulders as “problems,” and in this book, rock climbing serves as a metaphor for solving any problem that confronts you. Fifteen-year-old Shiraishi, regarded as one of the world’s most skilled climbers, is the author, narrator, and main character here. Her experience makes her statement—that solving boulders is similar to solving real-life problems—both arresting and credible. She sticks to the metaphor throughout, focusing on how, at 13, she solved a boulder problem that was the largest and most challenging she ever encountered. Xiao’s digital illustrations are full of movement and bold color, juxtaposing small Shiraishi with a boulder whose contours stretch off the page. One spread, oriented sideways, in which Shiraishi loses her grip and falls, is spine-tingling in itself. While the focus on cognitive mapping may be beyond younger children, the author’s beliefs in learning from each fall and that learning from failure is a superpower are sure to empower any person facing a problem. Engrossing and inspiring. - Copyright 2020 Booklist.

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