Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Summary:  In the opening scene, Stella and her younger brother Jojo see nine members of the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross in the distance.  The reader is immediately drawn into Stella’s world, the segregated town of 1932 Bumblebee, North Carolina.  She is part of a loving family and tight-knit community who endure many hardships.  The KKK burns a neighbor’s house down, her friend Tony is beaten by two white men, and her mother is permanently crippled by a snakebite that the white doctor refuses to treat.  But there are happy times, too, like the visit from a traveling storyteller and the day the entire town escorts Stella’s father and his two friends to vote in their first election.  Through it all, Stella works hard on her writing as she struggles to record what she sees and hears.

Pros:  Based on the lives of the author’s father and grandmother, this is a fascinating historical novel about the harsh realities of the segregated South during the Depression.  The love and community spirit are every bit as powerful as the difficulties Stella and her friends and family encounter.

Cons:  Be sure to discuss this book with kids as they read it.  Some of the events could be disturbing.

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