CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 1 . . . . September 8, 2017
People of all ages can find something of value within the pages of Monique Gray Smith and Danielle Daniel's book, You Hold Me Up. It is a book about relationships. While it is presented with a focus upon individuals and their relationships with the people within their lives, the same message of the importance of relationships is true also for entire countries in this time of reconciliation.
The large font for the written text is suitable for early readers. Yet, this is not a book that should be restricted only to the very young. It conveys a message (and responsibility) that is significant for young and old.
Smith's sparse text is augmented by Daniel's boldly colourful illustrations. The illustrations were created in gouache, acrylic, and pencil. They are an example of a so-called naïve style of art, but that is to take nothing away from the skilful use of colour and form to create fluid, appealing pictures that lend subtle beauty to the book.
Smith has Cree and Lakota ancestry, while Daniel is Métis. With this book, they become quiet and understated—yet powerful—voices in an age of reconciliation. You Hold Me Up is simple, yet beautiful, subtle but thought-provoking. It contains critical messages about love, unity, and support. Through carefully chosen words and strong, colourful art, the book presents an important reminder to readers to sustain and support one another.
Dr. Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba where he specialises in literature for children.