Holding On

S. & S./Atheneum. Aug. 2022. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534494459.
PreS-Gr 2–Making memories with her Lola is so important to a little Filipina girl. When her family visits her grandmother in the Philippines over the summer, they dance to classic performers like Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. They listen to Tagalog love songs by Nora Aunor and Basil Valdez, Lola’s favorites. She tells her granddaughter as they listen to the records “If you want to hold on, you gotta sing your songs.” The pair cook traditional dishes and play the lotto. Lola recounts stories, treasures keepsakes like the girl’s baby bottle, and sews old dresses into a quilt. Holding on has become even more important as Lola starts to lose her memory. And so the narrator sings the jazz standards and the Tagalog ballads as a way to assure her grandmother that she will remember on her behalf. The gentle text will tug at heartstrings and resonate with children who are experiencing similar situations. The collage-style, mixed media art is fluid, moving like Lola’s favorite music and dance. When the girl shares her fond memories, the illustrations are rendered with tropical colors, pinks, oranges, and greens. During the fall and winter, when she’s away from her beloved grandmother, the palette changes to blues and purples. Musical notes are sprinkled throughout and thread the spreads together. The work ends with a silhouette of the two walking into the sunset, swinging and singing on the beach.
VERDICT Bittersweet and joyous, this picture book is a positive treatment of a grandparent living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. An excellent choice for libraries.

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