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BE/HOLD by Shira Erlichman


A Friendship Book

by Shira Erlichman ; illustrated by Shira Erlichman

Pub Date: April 2nd, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-9996584-2-0
Publisher: Penny Candy

An ode to the pleasures and surprises of compound words: “the smallest poem in the English language.”

Erlichman writes short lines of love and comfort, addressed to an unspecified “you” and laced throughout with standard or newly fashioned compound words: “A friendship is like that. / With sails powered by / the deepest of breaths. / Some might call it a loveship… / or a songship…or a wowship… / and they’d be right. / But even if your ship’s makeshift, / come beloved, be loved / by me.” In the fanciful, semiabstract art, human figures—most but not all adult, paper-white with red lips and other visible features, but drawn in simple, flowing lines as if wearing sheets over their heads—dance, embrace, wave, or gaze pensively outward. The voice, too, is adult (or nearly so), addressing an absent “Sweetheart” who evidently wrestles with depression and loneliness. Though the language occasionally takes a turn to the twee side (“Don’t be tooscared. Be toocared”), there is an insistent flow to the sounds and sentiments that will carry readers over the (not very rough) emotional rapids to a concluding reassurance that “you’ll always belong.” The trim is 8 ½ inches high by 6 ½ inches wide, so despite its heavily illustrated nature, it will not look out of place on YA shelves.

Nascent wordsmiths will be left keen to explore the expressive possibilities for themselves.

(Picture book. 12-16)