Children’s 11/1/2017

In Book Reviews, Featured Book Review by Erin Downey Howerton

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith 
$19.95  ISBN: 9781459814479

Families and community members take turns respecting and showing affection for one another in various ways in the picture book You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith (Orca, $19.95, ISBN 9781459814479) which depicts First Nations people. Illustrator Danielle Daniel takes Smith’s words and demonstrates the power of community in action as an intergenerational cast of characters spend time with each other. Children drum, sing, dance, cook, hug, talk, and listen with parents and elders, and people are the clear focus of the illustrations. Daniel uses a soft geometric approach for bodies and environments, letting faces shine with the glow of rosy cheeks and affectionate, heart-shaped mouths. While sharing is a universal concept, Daniel’s illustrations bring specificity to the narrative. The children have various skin tones and hair textures, and one adult appears to be a male with long, braided hair. In this book that is perfect for a shared storytime as well as a lap-sit reading session, the actions of each person emphasize community, togetherness, and mutual respect. Just as with Smith’s board book My Heart Fills With Happiness, readers will joyfully make connections between their own communities and the indigenous one depicted here. (Ages 3-8)

Erin Downey Howerton