Holding On

by Sophia N Lee (Author) Isabel Roxas (Illustrator)

Holding On
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

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.

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Kirkus Reviews

A touching story of how we can hold on to our memories and loved ones. 

Publishers Weekly

A Filipina child visits Lola, their grandmother, seasonally in the Philippines, where summers "are filled with so much music. Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. in the morning. Ella Fitzgerald and Dean Martin in the afternoon. And in the evening, all the Tagalog love songs I can think of." In the winters when they are apart, the child narrator considers how Lola "holds on" to memories tied to beloved objects ("the old pictures I drew") and rituals (cooking "rice with adobo and mashing bananas to make each bite just a little bit sweeter"). And when they're together, "I listen to her stories and remember with her." When Lola's memory begins to fade, the narrator, too, clings to memory by singing the songs Lola passed on: "I'll hold on to all that she has taught me, and carry it with me in my heart," writes Lee (Soaring Saturdays) in gentle prose. Mixed-media illustrations by Roxas (Squid Happens), awash in saturated greens and blues with bright orange and yellow splashes, incorporate a motif of musical notes into images of familial intimacy across time, reinforcing the message of embracing unwavering love through music and memory. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Wendi Gu, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. Illustrator's agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. (Aug.)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Sophia N Lee
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 is the author of Soaring Saturdays; What Things Mean, which won a Scholastic Asian Book Award's grand prize; Holding On; and Lolo's Sari-sari Store. Learn more about her at SophiaLeeWrites.com.

Christine Almeda is a Filipino American freelance illustrator and lover of sunshine from New Jersey. Lolo's Sari-sari Store is her first picture book. Christine believes that, through the power of creativity and storytelling, art can make life more beautiful. Visit her at ChristineAlmeda.com or @EyChristine.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date
August 20, 2022
BISAC categories
JUV013030 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Multigenerational
JUV031040 - Juvenile Fiction | Performing Arts | Music
JUV030020 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | Asia
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
Old age

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