Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books

Hope is an Arrow introduces children to Khalil Gibran

Hope Is an Arrow : The Story of Lebanese-American Poet Khalil Gibran, by Cory McCarthy/Illustrated by Ekua Holmes, (July 2022, Candlewick Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536200324

Ages 6-9

Many adult readers discovered Khalil Gibran through his work, The Prophet (1923). Hope is an Arrow seeks to expand Gibran’s reach and introduce young readers to the poet through this evocative picture book biography, with his poetry sprinkled throughout his story. Gibran began life in Lebanon, a country experiencing religious conflict; his family left Lebanon and settled in Boston, where they experienced prejudice, leading the young poet to begin expressing himself through art. As he travels between Boston and Lebanon, his desire to unite people, born out of the conflict he experienced in both his home country and his adopted one, led him to find his voice in poetry. Hope is an Arrow reads like poetry, with phrases like “…they sailed the deeper, darker Atlantic Ocean, which murmured like a giant in its sleep” describing the Gibran family’s journey to the United States, and “…his words still fly across the world, in more than forty different languages and through many crashing winds, to bring all who read them straight to the heart of hope”. Ekua Holmes’s collage and acrylic artwork create dynamic spreads. Comprehensive back matter includes source notes, additional information on Khalil Gibran’s life, and a bibliography. A gorgeous biography for collections and an excellent starting point to discuss social and religious conflict.

Hope is an Arrow has starred reviews from School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and The Horn Book.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Stuff of Stars explores the beauty in science, love

The Stuff of Stars, by Marion Dane Bauer/Illustrated by Ekua Holmes, (Sept. 2018, Candlewick), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763678838

Ages 4-8

“In the dark, in the dark, in the deep, deep dark…” with this opening phrase, Newbery Honor winner Marion Dane Bauer and Caledecott Honor winning illustrator Ekua Holmes create a breathtaking story of the Big Bang, our connection to the stars, and celebrate the miracle of birth.

Marion Dane Bauer’s lyrical verse, set to Ekua Holmes, swirling hand-cut, digitally assembled marbled paper artwork gives readers a sense of being part of something much larger than themselves. The verse cradles readers, carrying them through the waiting, first for the Bang! and its expansions that form the planets and stars; through the formation of our planet and the life upon it, and through more waiting, dreaming, growing… and then a final burst upon the world: a child, made of stardust, breathing the same air, made of the same carbon, that formed the earth so long ago. Finding the figures within the ebb and flow of the greater art spreads cements our connection to the earth and one another. The book leaves me feeling small, yet overflowing with gratitude, every time I read it; whether I’m cuddled with my son, or I’m by myself and just want the comfort of its pages.

An absolute must-read, and a wonderful addition to picture book collections, fiction or non-fiction. Pair this with Jordan Crane’s graphic novel, We Are All Me, for exciting new takes on the science of life.

The Stuff of Stars has starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly.