Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper
In 1932, Bumblebee, North Carolina is small enough that most of the townspeople know one another, but skin color alone determines who mixes with whom. The Klu Klux Klan is determined to keep those divisions firmly in place.
At 11, Stella is smart, curious, even if she has a little trouble expressing herself on the page. “Sometimes I sneak out real late at night … to write,” she confesses to a friend. “I don’t like writing much, and I’m not so very good at it, so I practice when nobody’s around.” The surprising gift of a typewriter will go a long way to improving her skills.
Stella writes what she sees, thinks, experiences. An astute observer, she watches as her parents rightfully worry, but still live their lives as best they can. Family and friends gather to share meals, stories, hopes, and they take care of those less fortunate. They fight for their rights with civility, even when those with power show their basest attitudes. Within her community and beyond, Stella will well live up to her name and show herself to be quite the guiding star of kindness and justice both.
As memorable as the latest from bestselling, award-winning Sharon M. Draper is in print, the audible version is an especially enhancing experience. Draper’s words are wonderfully amplified by narrator Heather Alicia Simms, who deftly captures Stella’s 11-year-voice, from the hesitant ‘mm-mm’s for the many cross-outs as she struggles with in her early compositions, to the confident fluidity all that practice earns her by book’s end. Stella by starlight – by daylight, too – has important lessons to teach us all.
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult