Stella By Starlight by Sharon Draper

Published on April 15, 2024

Stella By Starlight.JPG


Stella By Starlight by Sharon Draper (2015)

Reviewed by Elizabeth DeVincenzo

This historical fiction middle-grade novel introduces readers to Stella, a fifth-grade African-American girl living in Bumblebee, North Carolina in 1932 during the Jim Crow era. Alternating between a narrative told from Stella’s point of view and journal entries typed by Stella, she describes life for African- Americans in her segregated town. Some her of observations are the poor conditions of her school versus the white school in town, harassment she and her friends encounter from certain white residents, and the limited job opportunities for African-Americans, like her father. The Ku Klux Klan is also very active in her town. One-night Stella and her younger brother, Jojo witness the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross. Stella recognizes one of the horses belonging to Dr. Packard, the white doctor in town, who will only treat white patients. When Stella’s father and two other men in their community register to vote, the Klan seeks revenge by burning down a house belonging to an African-American family in town with many children, leaving them homeless. When Stella’s mother is bitted by a poisonous snake, she almost dies, because she is denied treatment from Dr. Packard. There is only one African-American doctor in town, Dr. Hawkins and he is out of town in Raleigh. One of their neighbors, one of the few who owns a car drives to Raleigh to get him. He treats Stella’s mother, but she will have complications from the snake bite for the rest of her life. This would not have been the case if the Dr. Packard had treated her sooner. Though this is a work of fiction, it reads like a memoir. Despite the racism, prejudice, and terrorizing from the Klan, Stella, her family, and the rest of the African-American residents band together and have a strong community where they take care of one another. Author, Sharon Draper dedicated this book to her father and grandmother, who grew up in segregated North Carolina. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction. A must-read for Black History Month.

Target Age- 8-12

'When a young girl gains confidence from her failures and strength from what her community dreads most, life delivers magic and hope. 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." - Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

• Publishers Weekly 11/24/2014 - *Starred Review

• School Library Journal 01/01/2015 - *Starred Review

Tagged as: