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Holding On

Illustrated by Isabel Roxas
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About The Book

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.

About The Author

Photograph (c) Stephy Wong

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 SaturdaysWhat 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

About The Illustrator

Photograph (c) Isabel Roxas

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 or on Instagram @StudioRoxas.

Why We Love It

“This book makes me cry every single time. It is a story infused with warmth, love, and the beauty of memory and song. A celebration of Filipino culture and a testament to the love of a grandparent, this picture book touches the heart deeply.”

—Julia M., Editor, on Holding On

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (August 30, 2022)
  • Length: 32 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534494459
  • Ages: 4 - 8

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Raves and Reviews

"The gentle text will tug at heartstrings and resonate with children who are experiencing similar situations...Bittersweet and joyous, this picture book is a positive treatment of a grandparent living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. An excellent choice for libraries."

– School Library Journal, 12/23/2022

"Illustrations by Roxas 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."

– Publishers Weekly

Awards and Honors

  • Chicago Public Library's Best of the Best
  • Georgia Children's Book Award Finalist
  • Indiana Read Aloud List

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Sophia N. Lee