Cover image for Stella by starlight
Stella by starlight
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster Audio, 2015.
Physical Description:
6 sound discs (6.5 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Compact disc.
Added Author:
Stella lives in the segregated South, in Bumblebee, North Carolina, to be exact about it. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can't. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. The Klan hasn't bothered them for years, but one late night, while wandering around outside, Stella and her little brother see something they're never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, unwelcome change by any stretch of the imagination.


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2016 Audie Award Finalist for Middle Grade

When the Ku Klux Klan makes an unwelcome reappearance in Stella's segregated southern town, bravery battles prejudice in this Depression-era tour de force from Sharon Draper, the New York Times bestselling author of Out of My Mind .

Stella lives in the segregated South--in Bumblebee, North Carolina, to be exact about it. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can't. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. To Stella, it sort of evens out, and heck, the Klan hasn't bothered them for years. But one late night, later than she should ever be up, much less wandering around outside, Stella and her little brother see something they're never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, unwelcome change by any stretch of the imagination. As Stella's community--her world--is upended, she decides to fight fire with fire. And she learns that ashes don't necessarily signify an end.

Author Notes

Sharon M. Draper was born in Cleveland, Ohio on August 21, 1952. She taught high school English for twenty-five years and received numerous honors including Ohio Teacher of the Year and the NCNW Excellence in Teaching Award. She has also written numerous books including Romiette and Julio, Darkness before Dawn, Double Dutch, and the Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs series. She is a a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Literary Award for Copper Sun, Forged by Fire, Tears of a Tiger, The Battle of Jericho, and November Blues. Her title Out of My Mind made The New York Times Best Seller List.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 6

Horn Book Review

Eleven-year-old Stella Mills may have trouble getting words on paper for school, but she's a deep thinker, "a gemstone hiding inside a rock," her mother tells her. Even on the coldest of nights, she sneaks out of the house and writes under the starlight. Writing helps her makes sense of her world; the novel's third-person point of view provides readers with a perspective wider than young Stella's, as much of life in segregated 1932 Bumblebee, North Carolina, is beyond her understanding. There's plenty of action -- cross burnings, house burnings, a snakebite, a near-drowning, and a beating. But at its core this story is one of a supportive African American community facing tough times, a community acting as an "unseen river of communication that forever flows -- dark and powerful," keeping an eye on its children as they walk to school, knowing who is sneaking out at night, bringing cakes and pies when folks are ill, and attending the (unexpectedly hilarious) Christmas pageant at school. If times are bad, the community makes them better, and Stella grows in its warmth and love. Even her writing gets better as she writes about things that matter -- Mama, snakes, truth, hate, even the Klan. Readers will close the book knowing that Stella will turn out just fine: "Roosters never look beyond the fence. I doubt if they ever think about flying. But I do." dean schneider (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-The action begins immediately as Stella and her brother observe the flames of a KKK ceremony, late one night in 1939 in rural North Carolina. The African American community is alarmed but determined; they pull together to keep their families safe but also march with the three courageous men, including Stella's father, who dare to register and vote. Draper was inspired by her grandmother's secret diary, and reading, writing, and the power of words pervade the book. An itinerant Spoon Man, for example, pays for his supper with a story, while newspapers cover the walls of Stella's house. Although reading them "helped her feel like she was part of something bigger," when Stella tries to write herself, "It feels like (her) brain's a dumpling in somebody else's soup." Heather Alicia Simms evokes the rhythm of storytelling in the narrator's singsong voice. The main characters come alive through dialogue, each individual clearly differentiated by tone, pitch, and accent. With practice and persistence, Draper's Stella uses writing to come to terms with the changing nature of her world through words. VERDICT This excellent work will appeal to listeners who enjoyed Marilyn Nelson's How I Discovered Poetry and Jacqueline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming.-Toby Rajput, National Louis University © Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

After 11-year-old Stella and her brother witness late-night Ku Klux Klan activity, word spreads through their North Carolina town. It's 1932, and every "Negro family in Bumblebee knew the unwritten rules-they had to take care of their own problems and take care of one another." Draper (Panic) conveys a rich African-American community where life carries on and knowledge is passed along ("My mama taught me. I'm teachin' you. You will teach your daughter"), despite looming threats. While in town, Stella notes the white children's fine school building and speculates about who might be Klansmen; in her parents' backyard, spontaneous potluck celebrations chase away gloom as adults trade tall tales: "remember last summer when it got so hot we had to feed the chickens ice water to keep them from laying hard-boiled eggs?" Stella's desire to become a writer parallels her father's determination to vote. In a powerful scene, the entire black community accompanies three registered black voters to the polling location and waits silently, "Ten. Fifteen. Twenty-five minutes," until the sheriff steps aside. This compelling story brims with courage, compassion, creativity, and resilience. Ages 9-13. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

It's 1932 in segregated Bumblebee, North Carolina, and times are tough for the tiny town. The residents of Stella's African American neighborhood scrape together what they can to get by, and that spirit of cooperation only grows stronger when Stella and her brother, Jojo, spot a Klan rally close by. Tensions are high, and nearly everyone is frightened, but Stella's community bands together to lift each other's spirits and applaud one another's courage, especially when Stella's father and a few other men register to vote, undaunted by the cruel and threatening remarks of some white townspeople. Brave Stella, meanwhile, dreams of becoming a journalist and writes down her feelings about the Klan. Inspired by her own grandmother's childhood, Draper weaves folksy tall tales, traditional storytelling, and hymns throughout Stella's story, which is punctuated by her ever-more-confident journal entries. This uplifting and nostalgic tale of community and family movingly captures both 10-year-old Stella's relatable experiences as well as the weighty social issues of the period.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2010 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

For two young girls - in the Jim Crow South and on an island in Lake Erie - the world changes suddenly and irrevocably. STELLA BY STARLIGHT By Sharon M. Draper 320 pp. Atheneum Books. $16.99. (Middle grade; ages 9 to 13) MOONPENNY ISLAND By Trida Springstubb Illustrated by Gilbert Ford 292 pp. Balzer & Bray/ HarperCollins Publishers. $16.99. (Middle grade; ages 8 to 12) CHILDHOOD MAY BE the easiest time to go to bed as one person and wake up feeling like someone else. In two new middlegrade novels, young heroines discover that adults are not always truthful, and that the world is more dangerous than anyone has been letting on. They're lifechanging realizations, for sure, and in both books they present an opportunity to find a moral compass. Inspired by the journal of her grandmother, who had to leave school in fifth grade to help on the family farm, Sharon M. Draper, the author of many young adult books, including "Out of My Mind," sets "Stella by Starlight" in the South of the early 1930s. The line of segregation cuts through all aspects of life in Bumblebee, N.C., from inequitable schooling to inadequate health care to the denial of voting rights. At the center of the novel is a young storyteller named Stella Mills, who ventures outside at night to write, wrestling words onto the pages of her secret notebook. Stella, who is African-American, witnesses a frightening event involving the Ku Klux Klan. Draper conveys a full, rich picture of Stella's world, beginning with the importance of religion in the fabric of a rural, black Southern community. After decades of injustice and terror under Jim Crow laws, it is the local pastor who encourages his flock to stand up and be counted. "I will be at the voter registration office at 9 a.m. when it opens," he tells the congregation. "Anybody who wants to come with me is welcome. I am a man. Amen. Amen." Stella is at her father's side when he makes the trip. While she has gotten a front-row view of prejudice, she has the common sense to do the right thing later, becoming the unlikely savior of the daughter of the town's chief bigot. Poisonous snakes hide in tall grass in bright sunlight, and deadly creatures on two feet put on white cloaks and burn crosses in the night. An eagle can be seen in the blue sky of day, but also in the form of a brave 11-year-old African-American boy, an aspiring Olympian, who runs in the dark on the track of the off-limits white high school. Yet it's not single acts of heroism but the solidarity of the community, people's ability to come together both in times of need and to celebrate occasions for joy, that is most moving and inspiring. In honoring those like Stella and her family who went before us, Draper has written a novel that soars. A FAR LESS DIRE but still potent societal division runs through "Moonpenny Island." The people who stay on islands after the summer vacationers leave are made of different stuff. Why is an island a paradise for some and a prison for others? One thing becomes certain for Flor, the 11-year-old at the center of this story: No place is too small for secrets. In her latest middle-grade novel, Tricia Springstubb has found just the right mix of intrigue, sorrow and compassion. Like the island, many of the residents of this charming, claustrophobic place - a craggy piece of land that juts up in the middle of a great lake - seem made of rock, immovable and filled with frozen life. "Moonpenny School is too small to have a real principal, so Mrs. Defoe is in charge," we learn. "Her entire wardrobe is some shade of mud." Flor's father is the only member of the police force. But her mother, who is Latina, is a transplant to the island. Change comes when Flor's mother leaves to care for her sick grandmother, just as her best friend, Sylvie, also goes away under mysterious circumstances. New visitors arrive, a scientist and his daughter, Jasper, who is missing part of her arm. They have come looking for fossils, signs of ancient life buried in the rock. "Moonpenny Island" is, at its core, about adaptation. How do people, like other organisms, change in order to survive? As Flor wonders, "will future humans be able to see stuff we can't?" But what if evolution sent you backward? And can confinement possibly make a person bigger or better? As in all wellwritten children's books, these are questions not just for a young person, but for all of us. ? HOLLY GOLDBERG SLOAN'S books include the novel "Counting by 7s."

Kirkus Review

When a young girl gains confidence from her failures and strength from what her community dreads most, life delivers magic and hope. Stella Mills and her brother Jojo witness the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross late one starry night, setting off a chain reaction that leaves their entire community changed. During the Depression, North Carolina was less than hospitable for African-Americans forced to work more to earn less while being deprived of basic human rights. Through the perspective of Stella, young readers glimpse the nearly suffocating anguish that envelops this black community, illuminating the feelings associated with suppression. In a telling passage, Stella's mother attempts to comfort her: " 'It's gonna be all right,' her mother whispered as she smoothed down Stella's hair. But Stella felt the tension in her mother's arms, and she knew that in reality, fear hugged them both." Draper expertly creates a character filled with hope, dreams and ambition in a time when such traits were dangerous for a girl of color. While the use of language honors the time period, the author is careful to avoid the phonetic quagmire that ensnares lesser writers of the period, allowing the colorful idioms to shine. A tale of the Jim Crow South that's not sugar-coated but effective, with a trustworthy narrator who opens her heart and readers' eyes. (Historical fiction. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.



Stella by Starlight 1 Flames Across the Water Nine robed figures dressed all in white. Heads covered with softly pointed hoods. Against the black of night, a single wooden cross blazed. Reflections of peppery-red flames shimmered across the otherwise dark surface of Kilkenny Pond. Two children, crouched behind the low-hanging branches of a hulking oak tree on the other side of the pond, watched the flickers of scarlet in the distance in fearful silence. Dressed only in nightshirts, Stella Mills and her brother Jojo shivered in the midnight October chill. Stella yanked the boy close, dry leaves crunching beneath his bare feet. "Shh!" she whispered, holding him tightly. "Don't move!" Jojo squirmed out of her grasp. "It was me that saw 'em first!" he protested. "You'd still be 'sleep if I hadn't come and got you. So lemme see!" Stella covered her brother's lips with her fingers to quiet him. Even though her toes were numb with cold and she knew they needed to get out of there, she could not take her eyes from the horror glimmering toward them from across the pond. "Do you know what would happen if they saw us?" she whispered, shifting her stinging feet, the crushing of dry leaves seeming far too loud. Jojo pressed himself closer to her in answer. Besides the traitorous leaves, Stella could hear a pair of bullfrogs ba-rupping to each other, but nothing, not a single human voice, from across the pond. She could, however, smell the charring pine, tinged with . . . what? She sniffed deeper--it was acrid, harsh. Kerosene. A trail of gray smoke snaked up to the sky, merging with the clouds. "Who are they?" Jojo whispered, stealing another glance. "The Klan." Just saying those words made Stella's lips quiver. The Ku Klux Klan. Here. Here! "What are they doing?" "Practicing, I think." "For what?" Stella paused and smoothed his bushy hair, trying to figure out the best way to answer. Jojo was only eight. "Nothing good," she said at last. A horse whinnied in the distance--it sounded nervous. And there, in the shadows of the trees across the pond, Stella could make out half a dozen of them. The flames must be scaring them, too, she thought. The horses began to stamp and snort as the fire flared. Stella inched forward, trying to get a better look. One of the harnesses seemed to sparkle in the darkness. Or was it just a stray ember from the flames? The men in the white hoods were now all raising their arms to the sky, and they cried out as one, but their exact words were muffled by cloth and wind. "Jojo, we've gotta get out of here!" she whispered, now edging backward. "Should we tell Mama and Papa?" Jojo asked. Stella did not answer her brother. Instead she caught his hand in her tightest grip and ran. Excerpted from Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.