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You Hold Me Up

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This vibrant picture book, beautifully illustrated by celebrated artist Danielle Daniel, encourages children to show love and support for each other and to consider each other's well-being in their everyday actions.

Consultant, international speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote You Hold Me Up to prompt a dialogue among young people, their care providers and educators about reconciliation and the importance of the connections children make with their friends, classmates and families. This is a foundational book about building relationships, fostering empathy and encouraging respect between peers, starting with our littlest citizens.

32 pages, Hardcover

First published October 31, 2017

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Monique Gray Smith

17 books145 followers

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5 stars
401 (37%)
4 stars
416 (39%)
3 stars
201 (18%)
2 stars
39 (3%)
1 star
1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 301 reviews
Profile Image for Prabhjot Kaur.
1,046 reviews148 followers
January 22, 2021
You hold me up is a book about kindness, sharing, standing together, respect and compassion. I loved the idea behind this and the illustrations were good too. The text is simple yet delivers a very important and powerful message. Author's note at the end really moved me and made me think that our history is full of violence and oppression (around the world). Some things have changed and others are in the process of changing but unless we hold each other up, things aren't going to change.

4 stars
Profile Image for Danielle.
Author 2 books228 followers
August 25, 2018
Absolutely beautiful book written in both English and Plains Cree. According to the author, the starting point was for "healing and Reconciliation" in response to the history of oppression of Indigenous people, particularly in regards to Residential Schools in Canada. The result is a project that embodies kindness, respect, and joy in relationships and communities with engaging, tender, pink-cheeked illustrations.
Profile Image for La Coccinelle.
2,245 reviews3,563 followers
November 14, 2018
I feel bad about not being able to give this book a higher rating. The intention with which it was written was good. The text and message are fine, laudable even. So what's the problem?

I really didn't like the pictures. The very first one looked to me like the woman was side-eyeing the reader, and that was kind of the feeling I had myself as I went through the rest of it. The illustrations are very basic, and look almost like they were done by a child. Everybody's skin is blotchy, to the point where I wondered if they had some sort of medical condition. I think I would have found the illustrations unnerving when I was a child.

It may just be a matter of personal preference, but with the narrative being as thin as it is, I can't really justify giving this picture book any higher of a rating... since I didn't like the pictures at all.
Profile Image for CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian.
1,132 reviews1,389 followers
May 12, 2019
Beautiful book about empathy, community, solidarity, dignity and respect. The words on the main pages are short, simple, and profound, and there's also an author's note at the end about reconciliation, healing, and residential schools. The note seems more aimed at older kids and caregivers, whereas the main text could be read to very little ones.
Profile Image for Krystal.
386 reviews24 followers
August 21, 2017
This wonderful children's story provides Indigenous representation with a heartwarming message and vibrant images, which is particularly needed towards healing and reconciliation.
Profile Image for Schizanthus Nerd.
1,151 reviews239 followers
August 21, 2017
You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith is a lovely picture book that teaches children empathy, compassion, love and the importance of supporting one another. I've read this book twice so far and the second read was as sweet and heartwarming as my first time through. Danielle Daniel's illustrations are bright, colourful and happy. I loved that the principles outlined in this book are shown clearly relating to children's interactions with not only their peers, but also adults and family.

I particularly loved the author's note at the end of the book that provided deeper meaning to this project, that of much needed reconciliation and healing for Canada's Indigenous population as a result of 150 years of abuse suffered by children in Indian Residential (boarding) Schools.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley (thank you very much to NetGalley and Orca Book Publishers for the opportunity) in exchange for honest feedback.
August 19, 2017
You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith. Illustrated by Danielle Daniel. Orca Book Publishers. This book and illustrations show how simple actions support family, friends, and people in our social circles and communities in healthy ways. Highly recommend for young children. Thanks to NetGalley and Vanita Books for providing this ebook for review.
Profile Image for Kristy.
1,002 reviews121 followers
November 7, 2017
Read with my friend's daughter, Ava (4 1/2).

Ava's review: I thought it was too short, but I liked the pictures.

I agree with her. Cute story about loving each other, but really short.
Profile Image for Nrithya.
38 reviews
July 11, 2020
It was okay. It's a book on empathy & solidarity for kids. A lot of pictures and few lines of text. So suitable for very young kids who are just getting to learn new words. The intent of the book is good but I didn't get a wow feeling about either the illustrations or the content and hence the 2-star rating.
Profile Image for Kate Olson.
2,187 reviews724 followers
November 17, 2017
Beautiful picture book about supporting those around us. I plan to read it aloud to my 4K classes.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy!
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,400 reviews34 followers
October 17, 2017
You Hold Me Up was a lovely book showing the love and respect between a First Nations community across generations. The message about dignity and caring for others is an important one to share with young readers, and was especially meaningful coming from an #ownvoices author. The illustrations were bright and eye-catching with a cherry-cheeked motif throughout. Recommended for both the message it imparts, as well as the welcome diversity.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Earl.
3,489 reviews39 followers
August 27, 2017
Another Canadian import that I was super impressed with. The story is great for "how full is your bucket?" fans. It's also great to teach acts of kindness to readers who may be overwhelmed by all the bad news out in the world or are inspired by Wonder's message to choose kind!

The author's note discusses a deeper intention of why this book was written- the mistreatment of Canada's indigenous people through its implantation of residential schools.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,112 reviews186 followers
March 5, 2021
We hold each other up, the simple narrative in this Canadian First Nations picture-book informs us, by being kind and sharing with one another, by laughing and learning with one another, and by playing with, and listening to and respecting one another. By doing all these and other things, we embark on what the author describes, in her brief note, as a journey of healing and reconciliation...

Canadian author Monique Gray Smith, of mixed First Nations (Lakota and Cree) and European (Scottish) ancestry, first came to my attention through her lovely board book, My Heart Fills With Happiness , illustrated by the talented Julie Flett. I sought out You Hold Me Up because of my positive experience with that earlier book, and on the whole I found it engaging. I certainly appreciate the intent behind the book, which is to provide a template for humane community behavior for the youngest children, and to encourage healing from the trauma inflicted by Canada's residential school system for First Nations peoples. The illustrations here are done by Danielle Daniel, a Canadian artist who is also of mixed First Nations (Anishinaabe) and European (French and Scottish) ancestry, and have an interesting folk art style to them. I've read through the book three times now, and still can't decided if I like them - I don't find them aesthetically appealing, but they draw my eye and keep my attention, all the same - so perhaps I'll have to track down Ms. Daniel's own Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox , for further consideration. I do have a weakness for fox stories, after all. In any case, this is one I would recommend to picture-book readers looking for First Nations/Native American content, as well as to those simply looking for stories to encourage kindness toward all.
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,399 reviews463 followers
January 11, 2021
#10 in 365 Kids Books challenge and bid to get back on the Top 100 Readers list for full explanation see my review for 101 Amazing Facts about Australia

This is proving to be not just fun, which I anticipated, but also a good stretch. My local libraries hold collection which are in part formed by people at least somewhat like me for a community at least somewhat like me. The pandemic has curtailed in-person browsing, and with adult children I don't follow picture book reviews as I once did.

That whole sentence was just "I don't get out much," wasn't it?

Because narrowing my search was hard, I just put anything that looked like it might could be a picture book in my basket. Paw Patrol didn't make the cut, nor that strangely hillbilly family of bears series, but pretty much everything else did. If it's a picture book and I can find it in GRs or Amazon then that's what's next.

Mostly unfiltered then. So much I would possibly have skipped.

This, for example, which is simple and lovely. For some reason I am touched by the pink cheeks in particular, who knows? This goes back to my idea that one of the purposes of picture books is to get adults who might not have a lot of experience or examples of verbally expressing their positive emotions to do it anyway. That reading aloud "I love you and I will always love you no matter what" teaches us to think that way and gives us a script to use comfortably.

Just a thought. But if it is true, this is a really good book to give first time parents.

Library copy
Profile Image for Amie's Book Reviews.
1,522 reviews166 followers
Want to read
February 28, 2021
YOU HOLD ME UP is a beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated children's book

Learning empathy is important for all children and even parents can learn (or at least, be reminded) that parents need to have empathy for others as wekl.

This book was easy to rate. It deserves every one of the 5 out of 5 Stars that I am awarding to it.

Highly recommended!!!
Profile Image for Raina.
1,596 reviews125 followers
April 10, 2018
Great ownvoices picture book. Brief text facing simple illustrations of different scenes.
Profile Image for Educateempower.
94 reviews5 followers
April 1, 2018
The four words : You hold me up ring throughout this picture book, highlighting the importance of family, trust, friendship and love.

Written by two Canadian authors, this story highlights the damage done by the government to indigenous children in the past and at times, now.

A pertinent issue for many countries around the world, and as an Australian, something we need to do more about.  

Children being taken from their families, never to see them again was something that happened all too often and the stories that are emerging from this are atrocious.

Many of these children and families are on a long path to healing and can only do this with the support of the community around them.

This story reminds us that we are all human and that we all need love, respect and dignity.

Monique Gray Smith has written this with the littlest people in mind and hopes to encourage dialogue among children, their families and educators.

Danielle Daniel’s illustrations are vibrant and full of warmth and love. Each picture oozes the strength of each relationship and the bond held between the people involved.

Read this story with those around you and as you do, you will realise how important it is to hold everyone in our community up.
Profile Image for Alia.
115 reviews11 followers
October 4, 2017
Important book for discussion and healing. Lovely. Can't wait until it's a board book.
Profile Image for Lisa.
400 reviews
November 10, 2017
This book does a great job of bringing awareness to the injustice brought to indigenous people in Canada. This book serves as a platform from which to launch discussions with children about history.
Profile Image for Kier Scrivener.
1,017 reviews101 followers
September 30, 2021
I don't normally rate picture books but this was just so good!

Monique Gray Smith is able to write simply and yet profoundly, digging into the universal truths we struggle with. Fundementally we need children to share, to play, to respect each other. We fundmentally fail at this as adults.

We need this between children. Between adults and children. We need this between white and Indigenous communities. You Hold Me Up. I Hold You Up. We Hold Each Other Up. Is simple, base and yet what most of us fight tooth and nail for all our lives. In insecurity, in loss, in the words we cannot say.

We come into the world only able to use our voice to ask for what we need. Relying on others. And we move further and further away. Running from holding each other up as we hope others will hold us up.

Danielle Daniel's art is gorgeous. Celebrating Indigenous art and people through art is so important!

I love this book so much!
Profile Image for Ann.
640 reviews14 followers
February 15, 2018
Very simple picture book written in "the spirit of reconciliation" for wrongs done to indigenous families in Canada. None of these policies/politics are explored explicitly here . . . rather, the reader just is treated to a lovely list of ways we "hold (each other) up" by the kindnesses we share. Diversity in illustrations is much appreciated.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
2,018 reviews52 followers
February 24, 2020
This beautiful book describes the ways in which humans can support each other. Text points out that the simplest choices have powerful positive messages. And the pictures convey the same ideas. For example: "When you share with me" is the text and the picture shows one person handing an apple to another. Very lovely!
Profile Image for Kris.
2,933 reviews70 followers
September 9, 2019
Simple text, in both Plains Cree and English, with a wonderful message of empathy, understanding, and community. I just could not get into the art, though. I did love the color palette used, but the actual art was not great to me.
Profile Image for Jaime M.
139 reviews14 followers
April 29, 2021
Fun illustrations and only a few words on each page but there’s several pages so a lot of nice artwork to look at and find things. It’s the perfect book during COVID times. It’s a really great “I got you” book to affirm your love and support for Littles.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 301 reviews

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