cover image Holding On

Holding On

Sophia N. Lee, illus. by Isabel Roxas. Atheneum, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5344-9445-9

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.)