Stella by Starlight

Stella by Starlight9781442494978_p0_v2_s260x420Stella by Starlight

Sharon M. Draper, Author

Atheneum Books for Young Readers,  Historical Fiction, Jan. 6, 2015, the official release date. Many bloggers will be reviewing Stella by Starlight today as part of its launch.

Suitable for Ages: 9-12

Pages: 336

Themes: Segregation, Racism, the Ku Klux Klan, Family, Community, Hope

Synopsis: When 11-year-old Stella and her brother, Jojo, witness nine robed figures dressed in white, burning a cross on the other side of the pond near their home late one night, she knows that life in Bumblebee, North Carolina, is about to change. It is 1932, and “Every Negro family knew the unwritten rules — they had to take care of their own problems and take care of one another.” Stella and her community come together to find strength, courage and support as they face the injustices surrounding them in the segregated Jim Crow South.  Will Stella find her own voice in this coming of age story?

Why I like this book:  Sharon Draper’s book is a promise to her father that she would one day tell the story of her grandmother, Estelle Twitty Mills Davis. Draper’s compelling and powerful novel is inspired by her grandmother’s fifth-grade journal. It is a fictional account drawn from that journal. It is also a gift to her readers to share true stories of hatred and prejudice that ran so deep during the segregated South.

Draper works magic in her multi-layered storytelling that highlights the depression, segregation, racism, and a girl filled with hopes, dreams and ambitions during a time when such qualities are risky for a girl of color. Stella is a gutsy, resilient and compassionate hero with a strong and candid voice. Readers will benefit from meeting Stella and following her journey. The language in the story is true to the time period. The setting shows a caring and supportive African-American community at the height of the depression and segregation when families depend upon each other. The plot is packed with action, twists and a lot of tension — it is scary, heartbreaking, sobering, celebratory, and humorous. The pacing is spot-on throughout the story, keeping readers fully engaged. Readers will find themselves richly rewarded by this deeply realistic and satisfying tale. Draper has once again succeeded in creating a story that will ignite the passion of reading among students.

Resources: Visit Sharon Draper at her website for more information about Stella by Starlight and her other books.  There will be a study guide on the site for Stella.  Teachers and students may be interested in having their entire class read her book. Draper looks forward to communicating with students in their schools via Skype and Twitter. Visit her site for information and to follow directions.

Sharon Draper, a five-times Coretta Scott King Literary Award winner for Copper Sun and Forged by Fire, delivers another contender in Stella by Starlight. Her novel Out of My Mind has won over twenty state awards and has been on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year.  She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she taught high school English for 25 years and was named National Teacher of the Year.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

34 thoughts on “Stella by Starlight

  1. Pat, Thanks for reviewing this wonderful book. Will add it to my list. p.s. Quite fortunate that the author had her grandmother’s journal. What a family treasure!

    • This is such a special book since it is based on Sharon Draper’s 5th grade grandmother’s journal. You can tell a lot of research and care went into writing each word. Compelling story.

    • This book is right up your alley. You will love this middle grade read! You will love how she’s taken her grandmother’s journal and written such an inspirational book. Could not put it down!

      • I definitely will. I’ve kept a journal (diary) since I was six years old. Still stacks and stacks of them in cardboard boxes and drawers. Once, when I was in charge of an estate sale, I found the diary of the maid from a wealthy family in the mid-1800’s. Fascinating to read!!!

      • Perhaps some day you will find something inspirational in your diaries or the the maid’s diary and turn it into a book. You paint pictures with your words and I could see you writing a book or memoir.

  2. This sounds like another vividly compelling story by Sharon Draper, all the more so because it is inspired from the true events of her grandmother’s life. I shall read this. I so regret no longer having my diaries.

    • Thank you Nicole. What a nice surprise to see you appear on my blog. I had the opportunity of meeting Sharon Draper last night at her book signing in Cincinnati. What a remarkable evening with a stellar author. You would have enjoyed meeting and hearing her — so much enthusiasm and energy. I really felt the heart that went into this story!

  3. This sounds like an amazing book, one to be shared with all children. I do hope teachers use this book as a resource. I will put this on my TBR list and most likely give it as a gift. Thanks for a great review Patricia.

    • This is a beautiful story about family, courage, community and hope. Yes, it involves the segregated south and some tragedy, but Draper tells it with such heart. As an author, I think you’d enjoy her writing style. Teachers will use this book in the classroom. She will soon have up a site for educators to use Stella in the classroom. A lot of her books are required reading. And, it was interesting to see her former students show up at the book launch and signing last night. One of the students is an author and he shared his book with her.

      • How wonderful that her students have kept in touch. Obviously she was a great influence, especially to the student who is now an author!

      • I think she was surprised and moved to have around 5-6 former students show up at the signing. That added to the memorable evening. One man shared his novel with her and talked about a second. And, it turns out another student (not there) was also an author. She had a tremendous influence on her students. Some of them even proofed her first book, “Tears of a Tiger.” They all laughed about the dreaded senior “Draper Paper” they spent all year writing. If they passed, she gave them t-shirts that said “I Survived the Draper Paper.” It was a student who challenged her to write. She did and entered it in a contest and won. That piece earned her a special letter from Alex Haley praising her writing. That was the beginning.

    • I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Will look forward to your review! Want as many people to read reviews. Do you have the ARC to review? I finally met Sharon Draper Tuesday night during her book launch in Cincinnati. She showed me in the published book where she added more detail. It is such a good book. Good author to study. If she tours in your area, go. You’ll love her energy as a storyteller.

    • Coleen, I’m delighted that you liked the review so much. If you go to Sharon Draper’s website, click on Stella, and scroll down on the review section, you can see a picture of the diary, Sharon and Grandma Stella, and the home. Think you’d like the visuals, since your’e such an amazing photographer. After years of reviewing her books, I met her Tuesday night at her book launch in Cincinnati. So real. I posted a photo on my FB.

  4. What a powerful idea for a story. I love the fact that Sharon fulfilled the promise to her father. I so much enjoyed OUT OF MY MIND and can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

    • Greg, I thought you might like the book, which was released on Tuesday. She fulfilled the promise to her father, and just three weeks ago he made his transition. The book is both her grandmother and father’s story. She said “look out Mom, you’re next.” I loved OUT OF MY MIND. It’s been published in 9 languages now. After many years of reviewing her books, I finally met her at her book launch Tuesday night in Cincinnati. She really is a spitfire — so much energy and passion. Great evening. She starts touring next week. You can check out her blog to see if she’s coming near you. It was one of the best book launches/signings I’ve ever attended.

    • I’m so glad that you enjoyed the review. It is a book filled with so much heart. I love it is about how a family and community come together after a tragedy. And, I was so lucky to have the chance to meet Sharon Draper at her book launch last Tuesday. She lives fairly near me. Hope you read it.

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