To all the members of Brightly’s Book Club,
I am so pleased that Stella by Starlight has been chosen this month! I love the interaction and the immersion that you do as you delve into a book. Here is some general info about how the book got started:
In the middle of fifth grade, the girl who would grow up to be my Grandma Estelle was forced to leave school forever so she could help on the family farm. It broke her heart, but not her spirit. No one knew it at the time, but she would sneak out each night after everyone was asleep and write in a journal she kept hidden under the steps.
Many, many years later, when she was a grandmother and it was I who was in the fifth grade, she told me her secret. We used to spend summers with her in North Carolina — in the same house my dad grew up in. Roosters crowed at dawn. Our breakfast milk came warm from the cow, our eggs fresh from the chicken’s nests. I remember hot apple pie, cold watermelon slices, and sugar sweet tea. And the stories. After the sun faded into darkness and fireflies blinked in the yard, everyone would gather on Grandma Estelle’s porch and listen to the old folks tell tales — funny memories, harsh realities, family treasures, and sometimes big fat whoppers.
It was here that the fictional town of Bumblebee, North Carolina, was born. Based loosely on the real community, it was a place where families depended on one another for support. Celebrations, funerals, difficulties, and triumphs — all were shared, because these people were more than neighbors. To each other, they were like family.
When my grandmother passed away in 1983, I was given the only one of her journals that survived. It is one of my greatest treasures. Grandma Estelle, at age ten, could not know it, but she would become my muse, my spirit guide — to write and create and dream. She is my Stella by Starlight. The book is fiction, and the character of Stella in the story is fictional as well. My grandmother’s spirit is the background of the tale. I really hope you enjoy it.
Sharon M. Draper
Sharon M. Draper is the author of Brightly’s second Book Club pick, Stella by Starlight. Click here to learn more about Brightly’s Book Club, discover Stella-inspired activities and tips for discussion, and join the reading fun.