How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion by Ashima Shiraishi, illustrated by Yao Xiao (9781524773274)
Ashima is one of the best rock climbers in the world. Here, she shows how climbers take on the problems (or obstacles in the rock) in front of them. In this book, the problem she shares is the Golden Shadow in Rocklands, South Africa, which she climbed successfully at age 13. Ashima visualized her approach, clapped her hands full of chalk, mapped out each step in her head, and started her climb. Some parts of the rock, she named after different things in her life: her mother’s fabrics and her father’s dancing elbow. But then, the world slipped out from under her, and she fell. She dusted herself off, had a snack, and faced the problem again, learning from her fall. She tried again, stretching muscles to bridge the rock, and conquered it!
The writing here is a great mix of pragmatic approach and also lovely visualizations about the rock itself and the problem it presents. Ashima tells her story in the first person, from examining the huge problem in front of her through the approach, her fall and then success. But each step is executed in front of the reader where they can feel the muscle strain, see the skill that Ashima uses, and also use the approach of falling and learning from those falls, to dust off and try again.
The art by Xiao is marvelous with a substantial comic-book or superhero feel to it. This works really well with the subject matter, which has Ashima climbing what looks like impossible rock walls. The art shows clearly the different steps of the climb and how Ashima approaches each one with determination and focus.
A thrilling read and will inspire you to climb the rocks in your life too. Appropriate for ages 5-8.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Make Me a World.