Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

“Nine robed figures dressed all in white. Heads covered with softly pointed hoods. Against the black night, a single wooden cross blazed. Reflections of peppery-red flames shimmered across the otherwise dark surface of Kilkenny Pond.”

So begins this book about the segregated south in the early 1900’s. Stella and her family live in Bumblebee, North Carolina. Late one night she and her little brother are up later than they should ever be up, much less wandering around outside. And they see something they’re not supposed to see!

This is a fascinating story of a girl who has the courage to fight fire with fire! It’s a book that takes the reader into a world that was unfair and cruel to the African-Americans. And it is based on Sharon Draper’s grandmother’s diary. Even though her grandmother was forced to stop going to school in the fifth grade, she insisted on writing in her journal every night by the light of the moon. In Draper’s dedication she writes: ” So this book is dedicated to my grandmother, Estelle Twitty Mills Davis. She listened to her elders and learned to survive pain. Her life was not always easy, and she struggled with many things. But she loved her children and she passed her strength along to them. And she kept her memories in that journal.”

I would recommend this book to older middle school kids. It might be too intense for the younger students unless you read it to them and talk about the events of the story.

This is the same author who wrote the wonderful story “Out of My Mind”,

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