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The Stars Beneath Our Feet
Cover of The Stars Beneath Our Feet
The Stars Beneath Our Feet
"The right story at the right time. . . . It's not just a narrative; it's an experience. It's the novel we've been waiting for." —The New York Times A boy tries to steer a safe path through the...
"The right story at the right time. . . . It's not just a narrative; it's an experience. It's the novel we've been waiting for." —The New York Times A boy tries to steer a safe path through the...
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  • "The right story at the right time. . . . It's not just a narrative; it's an experience. It's the novel we've been waiting for." —The New York Times
    A boy tries to steer a safe path through the projects in Harlem in the wake of his brother's death in this outstanding debut novel that celebrates community and creativity.

    ** WINNER OF THE CORETTA SCOTT KING JOHN STEPTOE AWARD FOR NEW TALENT! **

    MICHAEL B. JORDAN TO DIRECT MOVIE ADAPTATION!
    SIX STARRED REVIEWS!

    It's Christmas Eve in Harlem, but twelve-year-old Lolly Rachpaul and his mom aren't celebrating. They're still reeling from his older brother's death in a gang-related shooting just a few months earlier. Then Lolly's mother's girlfriend brings him a gift that will change everything: two enormous bags filled with Legos. Lolly's always loved Legos, and he prides himself on following the kit instructions exactly. Now, faced with a pile of building blocks and no instructions, Lolly must find his own way forward.

    His path isn't clear—and the pressure to join a "crew," as his brother did, is always there. When Lolly and his friend are beaten up and robbed, joining a crew almost seems like the safe choice. But building a fantastical Lego city at the community center provides Lolly with an escape—and an unexpected bridge back to the world.

    David Barclay Moore paints a powerful portrait of a boy teetering on the edge—of adolescence, of grief, of violence—and shows how Lolly's inventive spirit helps him build a life with firm foundations and open doors.

    MORE PRAISE FOR THE STARS BENEATH OUR FEET:

    A New York Times Notable Book
    A Time Magazine Top 10 Children's Books of the Year
    A Boston Globe Best Children's Book of the Year
    A Publisher's Weekly Best Book of the Year
    A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
    A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year
    A YALSA Quick Pick
    An ALA Notable Book
    "A fast and furious read in which we meet some amazing people, people that stay with us. David Barclay Moore is an exciting new voice. We definitely haven't heard the last of his brilliance." —Jacqueline Woodson, Newbery Honor and National Book Award–winning of Brown Girl Dreaming

    "The Stars Beneath Our Feet is about the weight of the world on the back of a child, and the creative tools necessary to alleviate that pressure. I found myself rooting for Lolly, and you will too." —Jason Reynolds, Coretta Scott King Honor Winner for As Brave As You
 

Awards-

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    1

    What I couldn't get out of my skull was the thought of their rough, grimy hands all over my clean sneaks. What I couldn't get out of my heart was this joy-grabbing stone I felt there. Partly because of these two thugs trailing me now, but more because I knew Jermaine wouldn't be here to protect my neck this time.

    He would never, ever be coming home.

    My daddy, Benny Rachpaul, had bought me these sneakers when I turned twelve over the summer. I wasn't about to let two older boys strolling down 125th Street snatch them off me.

    Besides me being humiliated by it, my mother would whup my butt if she knew I had let some dudes swipe my shoes. And then, when he found out, Daddy Rachpaul would drive over and whup me again.

    I flipped up the collar of my blue parka and continued down 125th Street, but rushed my step a little bit more. I heard the two boys following me quicken their pace. Their footsteps behind me crunched on the ice that much faster. My heart was beating faster too.

    The streets around me were cheery, though. Harlem's main street was laid out tonight with bright lights, and Christmas tunes played constant on loudspeakers. I guess to put you more in the Christmas spirit.

    But for me, there was nothing, and I mean nothing, that would ever make me feel Christmassy again. I was through with it.

    Done.

    Done with all of the Christmas music, wreaths, ornaments and happy holiday shoppers. I had decided weeks ago that I would never be happy again.

    Because it wasn't fair.

    Wasn't fair to get robbed of somebody I thought would be there for the rest of my life. Someone who was supposed to spend this Christmas with me, plus lots more Christmases!

    It also wasn't fair that I couldn't even walk down 125th Street without being harassed. Rushing along down the sidewalk, I glanced up at all the men who were passing. All of them older and most of them Black like me. I was the youngest one out here and one of the few who felt scared to walk down this street.

    For us young brothers, taking a stroll down here, even on Christmas Eve, was not relaxing at all. I felt like I had put my life on the line, straight up.

    All of these old dudes lived in a different world from me.

    I crossed the street and dipped into a gift shop on the corner. Grinning wide smiles, my two "buddies" waited for me outside, one of them sitting down on a fire hydrant and wiggling his fingers at me like I was a little infant in a stroller.

    I sucked my teeth and turned toward the salesclerk.

    "Happy holidays, my young man," the clerk said. "Help you find something?" For a minute, his eyes peeped outside at the two boys waiting. He frowned at them.

    I watched them leave and sighed with relief. The clerk cocked his bald head to one side.

    "I need a excellent Christmas gift," I said. "One for my mother, and another one for her, um, friend. And for my father. But I don't have much money."

    "Last-minute shoppers," he said, smiling at me. "Come on. We'll get you straightened up. You're lucky we're open this late on Christmas Eve—125th Street is shutting down."

    ###

    125th is a big street that runs from the East River on the east side of Manhattan to the Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan. The street cuts right through the neighborhood of Harlem and is where most of the main stores and shops and businesses are. The Apollo Theater, the Adam Clayton Powell Building and the Studio Museum are all lined up along 1-2-5. If Harlem was a human body, then 125th would be its pumping heart, throbbing all the time.

    I don't know what the neighborhood's brain would be.

    As I flew back toward home,...

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.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 10, 2017
    Wallace “Lolly” Rachpaul, 12, is still reeling from the murder of his older brother, Jermaine. The only thing that makes him feel better is building with Legos, and after his mother’s girlfriend, Yvonne, gives him two trash bags full of loose Legos for Christmas, he lets his imagination soar. When Lolly’s creation outgrows his West Indian family’s Harlem apartment, he moves it to the rec center. Encouraged by the facility’s director, Mr. Ali, Lolly and Big Rose, a girl with autism, begin to build “the alien metropolis of Harmonee.” Outside the safety of the rec center, life for Lolly and his best friend Vega is getting more complicated. Two older boys, Harp and Gully, are hassling them, and their menacing presence escalates into an act of violence. 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. Ages 10–up. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from June 15, 2017
    Multicultural Harlem lives again in this daringly diverse tale of growing up against the odds and the imaginative, healing possibilities that we can create through the choices we make. Moore turns his back on the newly whitewashed Harlem, taking readers to the St. Nick projects to meet brown-skinned West Indian (Trini, to be exact) Wallace "Lolly" Rachpaul, full of contradiction and agency. Moore surrounds Lolly with a grand ensemble of characters that echo the ample cross sections and cultural milieus of the big city. There's Lolly's mother, who has embraced her queer sexuality with toy-store security guard Yvonne, who becomes a secondary caregiver after the tragic loss of Lolly's older brother, Jermaine to the drug-hustling crew underworld of Harlem. Lolly hopes that he and his dark-skinned Dominican best friend, Vega, can resist its allure. Mr. Ali is the veteran social worker with marginal resources and a big heart, refashioning his little basement space to unravel the traumas and difficult choices that could lead astray the black and brown youth he serves. And don't forget Big Rose (who doesn't like to be called Big). Then there are Lolly's Legos, which, block by block, help him imagine a healthy future. These characters are vibrantly alive, reconstituting the realness that is needed to bring diverse, complicated stories to the forefront of our shelves. A debut that serves as a powerful instructive for writing from and reading the intersections--125th Street-size intersections for all readers to enjoy. (Fiction. 10-14)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • New York Times "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."
  • School Library Journal, starred review "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."
  • Bulletin, 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."
  • Kirkus Reviews, 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."

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    Random House Children's Books
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