Arrow by Samantha M. Clark

Hello, Samantha M. Clark! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read.! Thank you for stopping by to share Justin Hernandez’s cover illustration and Laurent Linn’s cover design for Arrow. What would Arrow want us to know about him?

Hi, Mr. Schu! Thank you so much for having me back on your blog with my new middle-grade adventure book Arrow. I feel incredibly lucky to have the same cover team that did my previous novel, The Boy, The Boat, and The Beast. Art director Laurent Linn’s instincts are always creative and spot on, and Justin Hernandez’s illustration style is so deep and evocative. The novel is named after the main character, Arrow, a 12-year-old boy who has grown up the only human inside a magical hidden rainforest. He’s stubborn, curious, impetuous, and deeply caring about all the creatures in his life, including his mischievous best friend, Curly. Justin’s cover illustration has brought out Arrow’s character beautifully. I love the serious set to his jaw, the long hair that he peers out from, and the glisten in his determined eye. While the cover hints at destruction and disaster, I also love that Justin has included hope in the light behind Arrow’s head and in the way Arrow and Curly are looking out at us, the readers, to help save them.

Scenario: A bookseller at BookPeople asks you to fill out a shelftalker about Arrow. There is enough space for 300 characters.

Samantha M. Clark: Oooh, this is a great challenge! Unlike all the wonderful picture book writers like yourself, I’m not very good at being succinct with words. But I’ll try. ☺

12-year-old Arrow has grown up the only human in a magical hidden rainforest but something is killing the magic. When humans from the dry, dusty outside world find the forest, Arrow must choose between being accepted by his own kind and saving his home. It’s Mad Max meets Jungle Book and Fern Gully.

John Schu: A perfect shelftalker! 

Please finish the following sentence starters:

The Guardian Tree is the mother of the rainforest. She uses the magical anima within the earth to protect everything within the rainforest. And she’s based on real science! I watched videos with forester Suzanne Simard talking about how forests have mother trees that communicate with other trees through fungus in the soil. The mother trees pass out information and nutrients to the other trees that need it, even recognizing trees that have grown from their own seeds. Incredible! This was one of the things that inspired the story of Arrow. Even though the book has magical elements within it, all the magic is based on fact, and it was so fun to research the science and expand it with my imagination. The Guardian Tree in Arrow is honored on the backcover of the book, and I love that Laurent Linn and Justin Hernandez chose to do that. Her picture is a stark contrast to the cover, offering peace, serenity and strength. I hope that after readers meet the Guardian Tree, they’ll find the Guardian Trees in their own areas and take care of them.

Did you know Arrow has one hand? I don’t have a limb difference myself, and I didn’t set out to write a book about a boy with one, but the character came to me that way and I like to honor my characters. I have had interactions with people with disabilities throughout my life, including writing feature articles when I was a magazine journalist, and I knew that different does not at all mean incapable. So I knew that, even though this character has a limb difference, he would still be a 12-year-old who plays and cares about lots of the same things as other 12-year-old boys. While I was writing Arrow, I did a lot of research about the lives of people with limb differences. I tried out nearly all the things Arrow does, including weaving a basket and climbing trees, but I didn’t try the ziplining because I hate heights! Even though I experimented with doing these actions the way Arrow would, I know it can never compare to understanding the true experience. So when Arrow was done, I asked Nicole Kelly and Sarah Tuberty of the 
Disarming Disability podcast to be authenticity readers. They gave me even more invaluable insight into living with a limb difference and showing it authentically in stories. Nicole and Sarah are fantastic people, so fun and lovely, and I’ve loved working with them. I truly hope that children with a limb difference will see some of themselves in Arrow, and that the book will help all readers celebrate the differences in themselves and others.

Story is how we share, learn, experience, grow… In one of my school visit presentations, I talk about how story has been used by humans since we shared them over a fire outside caves. Then it helped us learn from others how to stay away from saber tooth tigers, and today we still use stories to teach each other. Today, we think of stories as what we find in books or movies, but stories are much more than that. They’re how we communicate. Human brains are physically wired to respond to stories, and we use them when we’re kids telling our parents how our day was, when we’re teachers explaining lessons, even when we’re businessmen selling products. This is why stories are so important. And stories in books are the most powerful, because readers are a part of them, seeing them in their imaginations. With stories, humans can make friends with people from other cultures, learn how to be brave and strong, and understand why we need to care and help our world and each other.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my inspiration for this book. My family is from Guyana, where I was born, and when I was 10, I went on a boat trip into the Amazon rainforest. It was amazing, and it cemented my love of trees and forests. While I was writing this book, I knew the story was about how we, as humans, have moved away from living with nature to trying to live above it and use it for commercial wants. In doing my research, it became clear that what we need is not a future where we have technology to help us live. Humans have been living with the earth for thousands of generations, and the indigenous people around the world still do. We need to go back to living like they do. For this book, I worked with authenticity readers for the protection of the Amazon and the AmerIndians who live within that rainforest. This book is a love letter to all the indigenous people who give to the earth as much as they get. I hope we can all learn from them.

Look for Arrow on June 22, 2021. 

Simon and Schuster's Description:

For the first twelve years of Arrow’s life, he has grown up as the only human in a lush, magical rainforest that’s closed off from the rest of the world. He was raised by the Guardian Tree, the protector of the forest, which uses the earth’s magic to keep it hidden from those who have sought to exploit and kill it. But now the magic veil is deteriorating, the forest is dying, and Arrow may be the only one who can save it.

Arrow has never seen another human until one day, a man in a small airplane crash-lands in the forest. Then, a group of children finds their way in, escaping from their brutal, arid world where the rich live in luxurious, walled-off cities and the poor struggle for survival.

The Guardian Tree urges Arrow to convince the trespassers to leave by any means necessary. Arrow is curious about these newcomers, but their arrival sets off a chain of events that leave him with a devastating choice: be accepted by his own kind or fight to save the forest that is his home.

Samantha M Clark is the award-winning author of THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST and the forthcoming ARROW (summer 2021), both published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster. She has always loved stories about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. After all, if four ordinary brothers and sisters can find a magical world at the back of a wardrobe, why can’t she? While she looks for her real-life Narnia, she writes about other ordinary children and teens who’ve stumbled into a wardrobe of their own. In a past life, Samantha was a photojournalist and managing editor for newspapers and magazines. She lives with her husband and two kooky dogs in Austin, Texas. Samantha is the Regional Advisor for the Austin chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and explores wardrobes every chance she gets. Sign up for news and giveaways at


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