Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Happy Book Birthday, Holding On by Sophia N. Lee!

It's time to celebrate a book birthday! But keep those birthday hats on because the next few weeks, I have oodles and gobbles of these. There must be a huge publishing wave in the kidlit world, but after the quiet of the summer months, its not surprising.

And it gives us tons of reasons to celebrate!

Today's read should be packed full of music, so let's take a look.

by Sophia N. Lee
Illustrated by Isabel Roxas
Atheneum Books
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

A young girl in the Philippines uses music to connect with her grandmother as her memory fades in this warm and moving picture book perfect for fans of Pixar’s Coco.

There is always singing in Lola’s house. Sammy Davis Jr. in the morning, Dean Martin in the afternoon, and all throughout the evening, old Tagalog love songs from Nora Aunor, Basil Valdez, and more. Lola always says: “If you want to hold on, you gotta sing your songs.”

Her granddaughter tucks these sounds and Lola’s wisdom deep within her heart. And when Lola starts slipping into silence and stillness, she helps Lola hold on, piece by piece, with the joy and music that Lola taught her.



With the warmth of family and music, this tale touches the heart, hits a bittersweet note, and leaves the soul singing again.

Lola's house is always full of music, which makes this little girl's heart soar every time she visits. Memories wind around each note as the girl learns and hears each song, while accompanying her grandmother through various tasks. But there comes a time, when Lola doesn't sing and is quiet as her memory starts to wane. Maybe, that music will be the help this little girl can offer to bring back some joy.

This is a touching tale of the relationship between a grandmother and her grandchild. The music hits right away along with a house full of people and life. The energy and positive atmosphere is addictive. Each scene of the girl accompanying her grandmother through various tasks creates a familiar and simple warmth and rings of security and care. Readers/listeners are naturally drawn into the wonderful relationship and will, no doubt, be reminded of some of their own special moments.

The illustrations are well done and portray a very cheerful grandmother and child. Their positive connection is easy to see. The music floats around some scenes in bubbles with various, lighter colors...notes and scores sometimes more obvious than others. The details of the memories are also well done as, for example, a kept baby bottle does duty as a button container—subtle and clever.

When the memory loss hits, it comes with grace. For those, who have experienced their own grandparents suffering from such problems, the issue is clear. For those, who aren't so aware, it's obvious what's happening without slamming into it too hard. It simply hits a little bittersweet but quickly offers quite a bit of hope. But then, with so much music, the heart has to sing.

And here they are...

Sophia N. Lee grew up in the Philippines. She wanted to be many things growing up: doctor, teacher, ballerina, ninja, crime-fighting international spy, wizard, time traveler, journalist, and lawyer. She likes to think she can be all these things and more through writing. She looks a lot like her lola Benita, but she inherited her love for writing from her lola Josefina, who worked as a principal and an English teacher. She is the author of Soaring SaturdaysWhat Things Mean, which won a Scholastic Asian Book Award’s grand prize; and Holding On. Learn more about her at SophiaLeeWrites.com.

Isabel Roxas is the author-illustrator of The Adventures of Team Pom: Squid Happens. She was born in the Philippines and raised on luscious mangoes, old wives’ tales, and monsoon moons. She learned so much from her lolas Fe and Venancia: how to shine the floor with a coconut, navigate a palengke (wet market), and make a scrumptious bowl of ginataan. Learn more about Isabel online at StudioRoxas.com or on Instagram @StudioRoxas.

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