Ramadan Kareem! It is a joy to share my conversation with Hena Khan during this holy month in the Islamic faith. Hena’s words are tender and true.
LIKE THE MOON LOVES THE SKY, richly illustrated by Saffa Khan, anchors parents’ unconditional love in the Arabic phrase “Inshallah,” meaning, “if G-d wills it.” I connect deeply to the wishes and dreams expressed by the mother in this story, and it has brought me to tears when reading it to my own boys. Hena’s award-winning stories have made countless Best Book lists, including those from Washington Post, NPR, Kirkus Reviews and more.
If you are moved by this gorgeous book and are looking for ways to support your local independent bookstore during the pandemic:
1) Find your favorite indie online,
2) Order LIKE THE MOON LOVES THE SKY for yourself or someone you love and
3) Spread the word!
3 words that speak to your current state of mind?
Grateful. Anxious. Hopeful.
Your book so beautifully captured my own feelings of love and hope for my children. Your words feel universal, and yet very personal. What inspired this story?
My children inspired this story. Although they are teens now, my wishes for them remain the same as when they were much younger. I loved the idea of introducing the word inshallah and simplifying messages from the Quran to a very basic and accessible level that I hope will appeal to a wide audience.
What do you hope children take away from this story?
I hope children take away a feeling of comfort, like a warm embrace, and the feeling of being cared for, protected, and loved.
Can you share a meaningful moment in your journey of bringing this book to life?
I always give my mother one of the first finished copies I receive of my books, and was grateful to be able to do that again with this one. Many of the gorgeous illustrations in the book of mother and daughter snuggling together make me think of her and my childhood. My mother taught me to read, and the spread that says, “Inshallah you seek knowledge, reflect and read” was inspired by her encouraging me. It’s my very favorite scene in the book.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I started to do it in my free time as a child, drafting poems, plays and a family newspaper. But it took me a long time to believe in myself and recognize that I was in fact always a writer.
Do you have a valued writing habit or quirk?
I have an amazing group of writers that I meet with once a month and can’t say enough how much their insight and input helps strengthen my work. Writing is often a solitary act, but getting other people you respect to read your work can help keep you accountable and motivated.
Who are your writer heroes?
I have so many! But my biggest are Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, and Jhumpa Lahiri.
What are your words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Anyone can be a good writer. It’s not a gift we are born with. Like any skill, it just takes practice and patience and learning from the greats, which means READING a lot!
What is giving you hope today?
Hugs from my kids, stories of kindness and humanity in the midst of tragedy, and faith that we will come out of this collectively stronger and wiser, inshallah.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’m so honored to be a part of people’s lives, and to know they are sharing my stories with their children. I like to imagine all the homes that are turning to books for an escape, for entertainment, and for togetherness. Thank you all—I am sending love and best wishes!
Likes the Moon Loves the Sky is published by Chronicle Books and launched on March 10, 2020