Hope Is An Arrow: The Story of Lebanese American Poet Kahlil Gibran
Cory McCarthy, Author
Ekua Holmes, Illustrator
Candlewick Press, Biography, July 5, 2022
Suitable for ages: 6-9
Themes: Kahlil Gibran, Biography, Artist, Poet, Biography, Conflict, Hope, Multicultural
Opening: “There once was a boy shot from a bow like an arrow. Strong and straight, he flew across the world, connecting many people with the power of his words. But not right away.”
Book Jacket Synopsis:
Before Kahlil Gibran became the world’s third-best-selling poet of all time, he was Gibran Khalil Gibran, an immigrant child from Lebanon with a secret hope to bring people together despite their many differences.
Kahlil’s life highlights the turn of the twentieth century, from the religious conflicts that tore apart his homeland and sent a hundred thousand Arab people to America, to settling in Boston, where the wealthy clashed headlong with the poor.
Throughout it all, Kahlil held on to his secret hope, even as his identity grew roots on both sides of the Atlantic. How could he be both Kahlil Gibran, Arab American, and Gibran Khalil Gibran, the Lebanese boy who longed for the mountains of his homeland?
Kahlil found the answer in art and poetry. He wrote The Prophet, an arrow of hope as strong as the great cedars of Lebanon and feathered by the spirit of American independence. More than a hundred years later, his words still fly around the world in many languages, bringing people together.
Why I like Hope Is an Arrow:
Cory McCarthy’s lyrical text, mingles with beautiful quotes from Gibran’s poetry, to create this inspiring biography of Kahlil Gibran for children. Ekua Holmes stunning collages and acrylic illustrations are rich in detail and capture Gibran’s remarkable journey from childhood to adulthood.
Children will see how adversity and loss inspired Gibran’s dreams of a better world. He was troubled by the deep religious divisions among the people in Lebanon. His father was imprisoned and his family lost their home, They immigrated to America, where he continued to see division between the wealthy and the poor in Boston’s South End. The young Gibran held a secret hope of peace within him, but he couldn’t find the words in English or Arabic to write them down. So he began to draw. Teachers and artists encouraged him. Later in life he began to write poetry to help people celebrate their many differences.
Gibran’s secret hope is a still timely book called The Prophet. It is published in 40 different languages and resides in libraries around the world where young and old alike revel in his hope.
Make sure you check out the four pages of of additional stories about Gibran’s life and work at the end of the book. Each entry is related to the inspiration behind the beautiful quotes shared throughout the story, including :
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance
Love one another, but make not a
bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between
the shores of your souls.”
Resources: Ask children if they have a special hope or dream to help a family member, friend, or community, Encourage them to draw or write about their hopes/dreams. There are no right or wrong answers so let them be creative. For starters: planting more trees in their city, helping a disabled friend, and rescuing animals,
Cory McCarthy is an acclaimed, best-selling author of books for young readers. They studied poetry and screenwriting before earning and MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where they now serve on the faculty. Like Kahlil Gibran, their family emigrated from Lebanon and settled in New England. Learn more about their books at this website.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
*Review copy provided by Candlewick in exchange for a review.