Stella By Starlight is a flashback to the 1930’s in the Jim Crow South. Stella’s entire community is shaken when she and brother, Jojo, stumble upon something they are not supposed to late at night in the woods. Soon, she is forced to confront the reality of living in Bumblebee, North Carolina during the era of the Ku Klux Klan. Also after her parents discover her difficulty with writing, they give her a typewriter and she soon discovers herself as a passionate writer. Her very own newspaper, Stella’s Star Sentinel, allows her to peer into the truth about prejudice in her town.
When Jojo awakens Stella to show her the Ku Klux Klan doing rituals in the woods, Stella rushes to tell her parents. Eventually the entire town is walking around on eggshells in fear of what might happen. Later Stella’s mom is bitten by a snake and the town doctor, revealed to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan, refuses to help her, which both surprises and angers Stella. However, one night she hears someone drowning, who is revealed to be town doctor’s daughter, Paulette. Even though Stella saves her, she confronts Paulette about her father, and to her surprise, learns that Paulette is also weary of him. Stella learns not to judge a book by its cover, and also to not fight hate with hate.
Stella By Starlight forces us to confront a past filled with hatred, violence and injustice. By looking at such a difficult time period through Stella’s eyes we experience her loss of innocence. At the same time, we watch her have to make a choice about the kind of person she wants to be regardless of the challenges she has been dealt. Ultimately, Stella reminds us that we all have the power to be the love that we want to see in the world.
By: Gregory Stewart
Draper, Sharon. Stella by Starlight. New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. 2015. Print.