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Children's Fiction Emotions & Feelings

You Hold Me Up / ê-ohpiniyan

by (author) Monique Gray Smith

illustrated by Danielle Daniel

translated by Mary Cardinal Collins

edited by Cree Literacy Network

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
Sep 2018
Emotions & Feelings, Diversity & Multicultural, Friendship, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2018
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2018
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2018
    List Price
  • Downloadable audio file

    Publish Date
    Apr 2021
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 3 to 5
  • Grade: p to k
  • Reading age: 3 to 5


Encourage 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 others. With vibrant illustrations from celebrated artist Danielle Daniel, this is a foundational book about building relationships, fostering empathy and encouraging respect between peers, starting with our littlest citizens.

Orca Book Publishers is proud to offer this picture book as a dual-language (English and Plains Cree) edition.


About the authors

Monique Gray Smith is a mixed–heritage woman of Cree, Lakota, and Scottish ancestry and a proud mom of twins. Monique is an accomplished consultant, writer and international speaker. Her first novel, Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience, won the 2014 Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature. Monique and her family are blessed to live on Lkwungen territory in Victoria, British Columbia. 

Monique Gray Smith's profile page


Danielle Daniel est une artiste métisse multidisciplinaire. Elle a écrit Parfois je suis un renard pour encourager son jeune fils à découvrir ses racines autochtones. Enseignante pendant de nombreuses années, Danielle travaille maintenant comme professeur d'art à temps partiel au Canada et aux États-Unis. Elle habite dans le nord de l'Ontario.


Danielle Daniel is an author and artist whose first picture book, Parfois je suis un renard, won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award and was shortlisted for the First Nation Communities Read Award for aboriginal literature. A former elementary school teacher, Danielle is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing through the University of British Columbia. Danielle lives in Sudbury, Ontario.


Danielle Daniel's profile page

Mary Cardinal Collins is a semi-retired teacher, fluent Cree speaker and translator.


Mary Cardinal Collins' profile page

The Cree Literacy Network was created in 2010 to promote Cree language and cultural literacy, in oral form and through literacy materials. Through the essential tool of standard spelling, the Cree Literacy Network supports the fundamental right of Cree speakers to understand and be understood.


Cree Literacy Network's profile page


  • Commended, TD Summer Reading List
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens
  • Short-listed, Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award
  • Commended, Bank Street College Best Children's Books of the Year starred selection
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books 
  • Commended, Global Read Aloud 
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books
  • Short-listed, Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award
  • Commended, Quill & Quire's kidlit and YA Books of the Year
  • Commended, Resource Links The Year's Best 
  • Commended, AICL's Best Books

Editorial Reviews

"Ideal for early readers by themselves, for lap-sitting, or as a read-aloud."

Canadian Literature

"You Hold Me Up is a welcome addition to the ongoing conversations around healing and rebuilding relationships…Gentle, relevant and never heavy-handed, this book serves both as a quiet lullaby and a starting point for discussions on empathy, community and wellness."

Canadian Children's Book News

“A lovely meditation on compassion and respect...A strong sense of community runs through the poetic text and is warmly depicted in Daniel’s stunning watercolour paintings.”

49th Shelf

"A strong and powerful message that even the youngest reader can understand...Very timely message indeed."

Youth Services Book Reviews

“Warm illustrations help to expand the brief text.”

The Horn Book Online

"You Hold Me Up is a gentle but effective way to introduce the topic of Reconciliation to students of all ages."

ETFO Voice

"A seemingly simple picture book that conveys a valuable message for all ages…The distinctive and soft illustrations by Daniel enhance the positive message by Smith about the power of companionship, compassion, respect and togetherness…This quiet book has a deep beauty and a universal message. "

Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award Jury

“This colourful picture book highlights the important connections that young children make with their friends and family members.”

Canadian Teacher Magazine

Other titles by Monique Gray Smith

Other titles by Danielle Daniel

Other titles by Mary Cardinal Collins

Other titles by Cree Literacy Network

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