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The Stars Beneath Our Feet Hardcover – September 19, 2017
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"Moore tells Lolly’s story of survival with the right mix of humor and hope to balance violence, fear, denial and deprivation. That’s a tall order. To succeed is a celebration. The power of adults as influencers and confidants, nurturing by words, deeds and acts of kindness large and small, fuels every page of this novel. It’s a book in which art is celebrated, being different is an act of resistance, and acceptance, not resignation, is the answer." —The New York Times
"This well-honed debut novel paints a vivid picture of Lolly and the choices that he must make, but beyond that, it introduces a cast of memorable, fully realized characters, each of whom will stay with readers long beyond the closing page." —School Library Journal, starred review
"Readers will marvel at the grandeur of what Lolly and Rose are able to build and learn together and will find comfort in intimacy of Lolly’s introspective narration." —Bulletin, starred review
"A debut that serves as a powerful instructive for writing from and reading the intersections—125th Street-size intersections for all readers to enjoy." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Debut author Moore delivers a realistic and at times brutal portrait of life for young people of color who are living on the edge of poverty. At the same time, Moore infuses the story with hope and aspiration, giving Lolly the chance to find salvation through creativity." --Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Moore’s work with the Harlem Children’s Zone and Quality Services for the Autism Community serve him well in creating this debut, slice-of-life narrative with an authentic adolescent voice and strong adult supports, all of whom are true to their urban world." —VOYA, starred review
"Magnificent." —Shelf Awareness, starred review
"Realistic problems and vivid depictions of family and city life make this middle-grade debut stand out." —Booklist
About the Author
DAVID BARCLAY MOORE was born and raised in Missouri. After studying creative writing at Iowa State University, film at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and language studies at l’Université de Montpellier in France, David moved to New York City, where he has served as communications coordinator for Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone and communications manager for Quality Services for the Autism Community. He has received grants from the Ford Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, Yaddo, and the Wellspring Foundation. He was also a semi-finalist for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. David now lives, works, and explores in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow him online at DavidBarclayMoore.com, on Twitter at @dbarclaymoore, and on Instagram at dbarclaymoore.
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This book covers friendship, between Lolly and his oldest friend, making an unlikely ally with a girl who is different from everyone else; fighting the temptation to join a crew when Lolly and his best friend got jumped by two bullies. Lolly worked his way through grief and anger by building these legos.
This is perhaps my favorite YA book this year. The author takes Lolly on a journey filled with moments that could either break or make a person and by showing that one could fight through grief by using one's imagination is truly inspiring.
* The recent death of his older brother, who couldn't escape the whole gang/drug road to nowhere but trouble
* Dealing with Christmas (at the book's opening) after the loss of a loved one
* Dealing with two moms and a not-so-connected dad
* Dealing with poverty (including "everyone's got bugs")
* Trying to stay safe when people on the streets are out to take whatever you've got
* Befriending a girl on the autism spectrum
And on and on. There's a lot for kids to process, and this is really more of a book for kids to read in groups with adult discussion prompts, or with a parent. At the heart of the book there is a moral dilemma that isn't addressed as directly as I might have liked: Lolly is eventually able to overcome his depression *because someone commits a crime to help him.* My book did not have discussion questions, and again, this is definitely something that's worthy of discussion about rules and fairness and equality, etc.
The overall theme is that you need to try new things to rise above your situation and not get caught in the circumstances life hands you. I hope many young people will find a message of hope and inspiration in this book.
Lolly is a young boy, living in poverty, tormented by the death of a his brother. He finds solace in the world of Legos, after his mother discovers two large bags of the plastic bricks.
Through them, Lolly learns to build, rather than destroy, and how imagination can become reality, as he fills their tiny Harlem apartment with his creations. It’s a beautiful, moving journey with profound, realistic characters and a solid, not-at-all cloying moral message at its center.
Wallace, aka Lolly, Rachpaul is a young boy whose parents came from Trinidad, and who now lives in Harlem. Harlem in the projects, known as 'St Nicks'. Lolly has a loving family, even though his parents are no longer together. They don't have much money, but Lolly's mom has a security job, and they have enough for food and clothing. Lolly is grieving a trauma, his brother, Jermaine, was shot and killed a few months ago. Lolly and Jermaine shared a room, and Lolly feels somehow responsible for his brother's death.
What has saved Lolly is his accumulation of legos, and the buildings he was designing with these legos. In fact, the buildings are so large they have overtaken his room, and he begins anew in the living room. At school he is doing okay, and there is an after school program where he has some counseling from Mr. Ali, a social worker, who is helping him work through his grief and anger. It is here that Lolly and 'Big' Rose, a young girl who is home schooled, start working on their own buildings with the legos Lolly brings from home. One of Lolly's mom's close friends brings Lolly bags and bags of legos not being used from her job at a toy store.
In this remarkable book, the author, David Barclays Moore, brings us a glimpse of life about friendships, choosing your own destiny, and life in the Harlem projects. His writing is precise and at the same time lyrical, drawing us into the environment inhabited by Lolly and his family. Drugs, money and gangs are a temptation for all young boys in Harlem. It takes a great deal of inner resources to avoid this temptation, and Lolly and his friend, Vega, have several run ins with a local group. This book brings us the real life of the Harlem projects, and how the choices made make the difference in a young boy's life.
Highly Recommended. prisrob 08-10-17