Age Range: 9-13
Hardcover: 336 Pages
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (January 2015)
What to Expect: Civil Rights, Ku Klux Klan, Family Relationships, Community Relationships, Bravery, Adversity, Great Depression, Historical Fiction, Segregation
Stella by Starlight, by esteemed storyteller Sharon M. Draper, is a poignant novel that beautifully captures the depth and complexities within individuals, a community, and society in 1932, an era when segregation and poverty is at the forefront. The Ku Klux Klan is dormant in the little town of Bumblebee, North Carolina, and though strong prejudice still exists, intimidation by the Klan has subsided. All of this changes one unexpected night when eleven-year-old Stella Mills and her younger brother JoJo inadvertently, but unmistakably, witness a gathering of the Klan who have rallied once again to in part discourage equal voting rights.
What proceeds is a series of events that test the fibers of an African American community woven together by their determination and dedication to their families and each other.
Much like the jazz standard of the same name, Stella by Starlight is haunting and riveting. The gravity of injustice and hatred demonstrated in the fictional town of Bumblebee is incomprehensible, and the robbing of the innocence of childhood is deeply affecting. However, what Draper depicts so masterfully is a striking commitment to goodness by the people faced with daunting adversity. The response by Stella, her family, and the community to what seems to be an unending sequence of obstacles, including assault, arson, and invasion of civil rights, overcomes the paralysis that fear can cause. Extraordinary acts of bravery, courage, and selflessness quell the fears and open the door for hope, love, and dignity to flood in.
Stella by Starlight is a powerful story with many lessons to impart and issues to reflect upon, and would serve as a compelling middle-grade read-aloud. Throughout the novel, Stella is on a journey to ease her struggles with writing, expression, and self-confidence as a student. As Stella’s writing progresses and improves with time, wisdom, and hours of practice under the stars, readers can take inspiration and hope for similar progress within themselves and in our society in the face of adversity.
Add this book to your collection: Stella by Starlight, by Sharon M. Draper
About the Author
Sharon M. Draper is a New York Times bestselling author who has received the Coretta Scott King Award for both Copper Sun and Forged by Fire. Her Out of My Mind has won multiple awards and has been a New York Times bestseller for more than a year. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she taught high school English for twenty-five years and was named National Teacher of the Year. Visit her at SharonDraper.com.
Stella by Starlight, by Sharon M. Draper, was reviewed by Gi Hallmark. Follow along with our articles and reviews tagged with Books by Sharon M. Draper and Books for African American History Month to discover more great books just like this one.