The Stars Beneath Our Feet
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.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.

The Stars Beneath Our Feet Details

TitleThe Stars Beneath Our Feet
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 19th, 2017
PublisherKnopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN-139781524701253
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult, Fiction, Cultural, African American, Contemporary

The Stars Beneath Our Feet Review

  • Lola
    January 1, 1970
    I don’t see what everyone else sees in this book.Perhaps that is because I have read so many, many, many books featuring characters dealing with the loss of a loved one? I want to say that is probably the case, but the truth is I constantly read these books and I tend to enjoy them as a general rule.So what happened? The writing is lovely. It drew me in from the start. I was curious about the story and I certainly could not complain about the cool cover. But it took time for me to understand why I don’t see what everyone else sees in this book.Perhaps that is because I have read so many, many, many books featuring characters dealing with the loss of a loved one? I want to say that is probably the case, but the truth is I constantly read these books and I tend to enjoy them as a general rule.So what happened? The writing is lovely. It drew me in from the start. I was curious about the story and I certainly could not complain about the cool cover. But it took time for me to understand why there was tension between the characters,Someone died. Who died? Oh, his brother. Really, how? Well, you’ll have to wait until I’m ready to share that part. Oh, come on, I’d like to understand now, not later. But I’m not ready to share that with you! And what’s up with his father, what’s going on? It’s complicated…I felt confused a lot. And even when I wasn’t anymore, when the hero finally decided to shed some light on issues, I realized there is absolutely no plot and the little boy is just wandering around, making connections, pretending to be okay, trying to live on after the tragic death of his brother, doing mundane things like buying gifts, ….I was not so interested. Lolly is a boy I really wanted to connect with, but he made it so hard, because he’s not open about his emotions and he’s so quiet, calm and reserved that I couldn’t get to know him through his entourage. I don’t know if anyone, except maybe his mother, even knows him very well.Couldn’t finish it. Was bored. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’
    more
  • Nic Stone
    January 1, 1970
    A beautiful glimpse into the life of a grieving young boy on the cusp of a number of decisions that will determine the direction of his life, my favorite thing about this amazing book was the way it perfectly highlighted the contradictory nature of black-male adolescence: Lolly is very much a kid who dreams of greatness and loves creating things with Legos, but because of his circumstances, he's forced to think about very adult things. Highly recommend!
    more
  • CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
    January 1, 1970
    Really great, kinda wish I hadn't done the audiobook cause I know I missed some things. But holy crap a kid dealing with a lot of grown-up things. Also: really great to see representation of queer people of colour in a middle grade book (the main character's mom is a lesbian).
    more
  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    Wonderful, heartfelt look at how a young boy in Harlem deals with grief and growing up. An interesting look at creativity and art as well, and perfect for those who aren't quite ready for The Hate U Give, as this is solidly middle grade.
  • Autumn
    January 1, 1970
    So on point with the dialogue and perspectives of tweens growing up in urban America -- still kids, like any twelve or thirteen year old, but sometimes dealing with some very grown-up stuff as best they can.Super smart about the extra pressures placed on young men and women of color to grow up fast. I love this book for taking place in an afterschool program, for honoring play and creativity, and for the hilarious sweetness of the characters' perspectives. Oh, and did I mention it's LGBTQIA frie So on point with the dialogue and perspectives of tweens growing up in urban America -- still kids, like any twelve or thirteen year old, but sometimes dealing with some very grown-up stuff as best they can.Super smart about the extra pressures placed on young men and women of color to grow up fast. I love this book for taking place in an afterschool program, for honoring play and creativity, and for the hilarious sweetness of the characters' perspectives. Oh, and did I mention it's LGBTQIA friendly in the chillest of ways? EDIT: OK, after reading a few reviews, I see that some folks are concerned with the way Lolly and his friends talk to and about one another. To me, that honesty is a strength of the book. Kids his age would crack on Butteray and Rose (at least initially) b/c of their own insecurities and need to fit in. Depicting the behavior is not the same as condoning, and it makes Lolly much more realistic to me.
    more
  • Nat
    January 1, 1970
    I feel like it takes a lot to be surprised by a realistic fiction novel anymore... and The Stars Beneath Our Feet definitely did (surprise me, that is), but slowly; as slowly and methodically as a twelve-year-old constructing a city out of Legos. I finished it yesterday and needed to think before reviewing about what was most valuable to me about it. Here's what I've settled on: the plot was both creative and believable, the main character was a twelve year old I could both root for and recogniz I feel like it takes a lot to be surprised by a realistic fiction novel anymore... and The Stars Beneath Our Feet definitely did (surprise me, that is), but slowly; as slowly and methodically as a twelve-year-old constructing a city out of Legos. I finished it yesterday and needed to think before reviewing about what was most valuable to me about it. Here's what I've settled on: the plot was both creative and believable, the main character was a twelve year old I could both root for and recognize, the messages were both important and without preachiness, and the relationships in the story felt both intentional and pure. This is a balanced novel, y'all. Recommend to all of my Goodreads friends, bookstagram friends, friend-friends, and collectors of good stories.
    more
  • Katrina
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 stars. This book is kind of all over the place. We have: a dead brother, a gay mom, an absentee father, a girl with autism, legos, architecture, and gangs. Did I mention the girl detectives and the coyote?(!) (Fortunately those turn out to be a very small side plot, but I was really wondering where we were going for awhile!) And somehow even with all of that stuffed in, nothing really happens. There's not much of a plot, it just kind of meanders around. There's way too much dialogue that see 2.5 stars. This book is kind of all over the place. We have: a dead brother, a gay mom, an absentee father, a girl with autism, legos, architecture, and gangs. Did I mention the girl detectives and the coyote?(!) (Fortunately those turn out to be a very small side plot, but I was really wondering where we were going for awhile!) And somehow even with all of that stuffed in, nothing really happens. There's not much of a plot, it just kind of meanders around. There's way too much dialogue that seems to be included only to show "how people talk" without achieving anything in the scene. And the end gets awfully preachy.
    more
  • Shenwei
    January 1, 1970
    an important and lovely story about friendship, creativity and developing healthy coping skills
  • Wesaun
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I have no knowledge of changes that have occurred in the final version.I am not a well-read reader when it comes to middle grade novels and so this book did not suit me so well due to the level at which it was at. But this was a book that I wish had been put in my hands when I was in that middle-grade books stage, just to see black kids not for any other reason. This book and its characters came alive with its cast of marginalized characters. I loved reading a book with children that Disclaimer: I have no knowledge of changes that have occurred in the final version.I am not a well-read reader when it comes to middle grade novels and so this book did not suit me so well due to the level at which it was at. But this was a book that I wish had been put in my hands when I was in that middle-grade books stage, just to see black kids not for any other reason. This book and its characters came alive with its cast of marginalized characters. I loved reading a book with children that were so...real and delightful. I loved the descriptions of Lolly's world and the adventures that he went on. I loved seeing his evolution throughout the story and seeing him grapple with the darkness within himself. That was something that I want to spend time thinking about and that I personally haven't really seen in the books that I have read. I have seen characters deal with dark circumstances and insecurities, like anyone else. But dealing with the darkness coming from within that sprouted from those circumstances, I don't know if what I am saying will make any sense or sound any different but it was different. Moore made it so...fresh even when parts could come off as trite. I loved how for most of the novel though some parts were shorter than others, most of it wasn't filler. The varied vernacular was...stimulating from time to time. I loved Rosamund, especially. She was beautiful and complex, though I am unsure of the accurate representation of autism, sometimes it made me uneasy, and am not sure how correctly it was done. Someone else would have to weigh in that was actually autistic.Now for the things I didn't love. Some circumstances in the last few chapters seemed unnecessary and gave off an annoying, filler vibe.  There was a cast of queer characters within this novel. If I'm giving Moore the benefit of the doubt, I would say it was to normalize or to include a realistic variety of characters considering the setting is where one might expect a variety of people. However, the way these characters are portrayed is unsettling. Moore chose to include caricatures. I wish I knew why. These characters were not respected or treated with decency in this novel. They were constantly picked at, poked, and degraded. I'm not saying that that isn't real life. I'm just saying the way that was portrayed made me uneasy. He (referring to Moore) seemed to be trying to regard these characters with respect but failed miserably.Jonathan got constantly mentioned but almost no development or anything really attached to him besides being called "limp wrist" on repeated occasions. The reader will never learn much of who he really is, just see other characters make fun of him in what maybe is supposed to be affectionate but really just comes off as the characters being disgusted with him for nothing besides his identity. There was no breakdown of discrimination in this novel, at least when it came to Jonathan. There was no setup of characters saying these things and then someone speaking out against it. It just was  silently carried along and that validated it in a way that could be considered hurtful but maybe some would just shrug at. I don't really think it is a healthy thing for kids to be exposed to and could just perpetuate the cruelty of making fun of boys that come off in a way that is different than the others which always leads to bigger problems as we should all be well aware of by now.Aston Stewart was all right, in that the character seemed confident, but he was wronged in this novel every step of the way, by the other adults he interacted in this novel and subconsciously by Lolly? I found it very confusing especially considering Lolly's mother, which you will find out in the first pages of the novel, should technically be more accepting of Aston. I found the reactions when Aston was introduced appalling.Butteray Jones was made fun of which made me uneasy for kids like him reading this novel. I feel like any attempt to try to support him afterwards in this novel was half-baked and not well done in a way that would combat the already negative message and its impact. I don't think any of the malice in this book was intended,because no one could be this bad, but it is there and I found it nauseating and it was perplexing. I felt like there was some back and forth underlying message that ended up being unclear static. It didn't fit to me since the book was going so well to stop every once in a while to include characters and basically knock them down.This book will end up, unfortunately, sending a message to children that are like the characters that were made fun of that there is something wrong with them. That they might be sort of accepted but remind them that who they are could never be, at least not completely and might encourage other children to make fun of them which, as I said before, always leads to more problems that keep on the hateful society that we are burning in now.And since the book is so lovely in other aspects, I found it a combination of deeply disparaging and confusing. If queer characters are just going to be made fun of, why even include them? It just clouds the positive message that you were trying to send with fat raindrops of negativity that might be found imperceptible to some but what about those who pick up on that message? What then for them? I hope that Moore improves his handling of characters not like himself (if that happens to be so and if not then I apologise for my assumptions that are based off of the book). No one can be perfect, of course, but this book would have been way better with a little help from sensitivity readers who would have caught these details. This book was, in the end, bittersweet. It was full of the potential to be beautiful and to bloom and bloom it started, and then suddenly stopped midway and wilted. I will recommend it but only for those who wouldn't be triggered or as deeply disappointed by this sort of message being put out during this time or those that do not notice or are not good at paying attention to details and reoccurring underlying messages. 
    more
  • Alex (not a dude) Baugh
    January 1, 1970
    It’s Christmas Eve, and Wallace “Lolly” Rachpaul,12, is walking along 125th Street in Harlem, trying to get home as quickly as he can. Lolly has a new pair of sneakers from his mostly absent dad and he’s not about to let the two older boys following him snatch them off his feet. But when Lolly quickly turns the corner of 125th Street and 8th Avenue, the two boys abruptly stop, because Lolly lives in a world of imaginary protected borders, each border guarded by its own crew, and crews know bette It’s Christmas Eve, and Wallace “Lolly” Rachpaul,12, is walking along 125th Street in Harlem, trying to get home as quickly as he can. Lolly has a new pair of sneakers from his mostly absent dad and he’s not about to let the two older boys following him snatch them off his feet. But when Lolly quickly turns the corner of 125th Street and 8th Avenue, the two boys abruptly stop, because Lolly lives in a world of imaginary protected borders, each border guarded by its own crew, and crews know better than to cross those lines.Lolly, who is West Indian, lives in the St. Nicholas House, a public housing project on West 127th Street, with his mom and his mom’s girlfriend Yvonne, a security guard in a large toy store. His older brother, Jermaine had gotten involved with a drug dealing crew and was shot and killed outside a Bronx nightclub just a few months back and, while Lolly is still trying to come to terms with his loss, he is also trying to resist the pressure to join a crew.One thing that Lolly does like is Legos, and he has painstaking put together all kinds of kits, following the instructions to the letter. But late Christmas Eve, he takes them all apart, suddenly wanting to built something else, something of his own. Later, when Yvonne comes home on Christmas morning, she has two garbage bags full of Legos for Lolly, and just in time. Pretty soon, Lolly has built a castle so big his mom is complaining about how much space it is taking up, so he is allowed to build in an empty storeroom in the after school program he goes to, run by Mr. Ali, an understanding, but underfunded social worker.Soon, Lolly is joined by Big Alice, a special needs student suffering her own family loss, and who never speaks to anyone, but stays by herself reading. In the Lego room, she helps herself to Lolly’s Legos (Yvonne brings him more and more bags full) and begins building her own buildings, which resemble their neighborhood perfectly. At first, Lolly resents Big Alice, but soon the two are taking trips into midtown Manhattan, exploring the different buildings found in a architecture book Lolly was given for Christmas. Eventually, the two begin to build Harmonee, an enormous alien world, together.All the while, Lolly, and his Dominican best friend, Vega are being harassed by the same two boys who followed Lolly on Christmas Eve. Part of a crew that wants Lolly and Vega to join them, they soon resort to violence as a means of persuasion. And it almost works…but then things in Lolly’s life take another totally unexpected turn.The Stars Beneath Our Feet is a debut novel for David Barclay Moore. It is an all-to-realistic coming of age contemporary novel, and Lolly is a wonderfully flawed character full of contradictions (like choosing Legos over video games). As Lolly tries to reassemble his life through the metaphor of Lego building blocks, life on the city streets is also becoming more and more complicated. Luckily, Moore has surrounded him with people who are caring and supportive - his gay mom, Yvonne, who is trying to help him through the grieving process by giving him Legos, the only thing she can do, Mr. Ali, who has recognized that Lolly needs to work through the trauma of losing his brother so violently, even his dad comes through, though not as much as Lolly would like. And their story threads together with those of Lolly, Big Alice, and Vega make this such a full-bodied novel.Harlem is also as much a character in this novel as anyone, providing a living backdrop for Lolly’s important slice-of-life story. But, the danger those street hold for young men of color like Lolly isn’t something most people know or even think about and Moore has captured it with brutal honesty, compassion, and even humor. From the moment I started reading The Stars Beneath Our Feet, I could’t put it down. It may not be a book for everyone, but it is certainly a worthwhile read and, I think, a real eye-opener for many. Moore’s final message in this novel - it is not just family, but also community that can help change things for kids. This book is recommended for readers age 10+This book was an ARC received from the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf
    more
  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    So, I feel like this will be an unpopular opinion, but I just was not that impressed with this book. What I hoped was going to be a clear Middle Grade alternative to the other rock star texts Dear Martin and The Hate U Give , but it was nowhere near those books, IMO. While the subject matter was similar (a young black boy in Harlem is dealing with the death of his older brother and trying to figure out what to do with his life-art vs gangs), the writing and character development was lacking. The So, I feel like this will be an unpopular opinion, but I just was not that impressed with this book. What I hoped was going to be a clear Middle Grade alternative to the other rock star texts Dear Martin and The Hate U Give , but it was nowhere near those books, IMO. While the subject matter was similar (a young black boy in Harlem is dealing with the death of his older brother and trying to figure out what to do with his life-art vs gangs), the writing and character development was lacking. The story was choppy. The character was unlikable at times, and not in a way that made you hope for his growth or change, but just in a way that made you annoyed with him. His friends were shallow character sketches that never felt fleshed out. The side stories did not develop enough to feel relevant or important.In the end, not for me. Right now I have it on order for my library, but am not sure if I will keep it or not since I wasn't that impressed.
    more
  • Alicia Farmer
    January 1, 1970
    Books like this make me wish I taught middle school English. In addition to the poor, white boys of the American Heartland in "The Outsiders," or the island-bound white schoolboys in the "Lord of the Flies", I'd have my students read about poor dark-skinned boys on Manhattan Island that populate this book. And not just boys. Girls, too. And adults. And people who are gay, who are on the autism spectrum, who have disabilities. It's an inclusive story where everyone is doing their best to survive. Books like this make me wish I taught middle school English. In addition to the poor, white boys of the American Heartland in "The Outsiders," or the island-bound white schoolboys in the "Lord of the Flies", I'd have my students read about poor dark-skinned boys on Manhattan Island that populate this book. And not just boys. Girls, too. And adults. And people who are gay, who are on the autism spectrum, who have disabilities. It's an inclusive story where everyone is doing their best to survive. I hate that cliche (which I'd have my class discuss), but it seems apt here.Tween-aged kids are flirting with adulthood in Harlem. In the projects. Do they join the gang whose members keep threatening and harassing them? Do they find false security behind owning a gun? Do they follow their creative impulses or turn hard and abandon them?There's a lot going on in this story, not least the recent death by shooting of the brother of the main character, Lolly. Lolly has the constant reminder of his brother's empty bed to remind him of his loss. He also has a largely absent father, whose abandonment he feels keenly. Lolly's mother and her girlfriend are loving and active in his life, but they're trying to earn a living in a world that doesn't welcome people of their race, gender and sexual orientation. Lolly's solace is Legos. He escapes to imaginary kingdoms that he builds. His passion leads him on an adventure in which he makes new friends, gains acclaim, makes NYC his own, and discovers the content of his character. Along the way we readers meet the "people in his neighborhood," from drug dealers to street vendors, store proprietors to grandmothers. We even glimpse another wily but vulnerable being: a coyote in St. Nicholas park.I loved this story's loving core and gentleness with its characters (even though police violence and gun death make their appearances). The author's afterward endeared David Barclay Moore to me. He wrote this for kids like Lolly, so they can see themselves in books, too, not just the Pony Boys and Piggys school gives us.
    more
  • The Reading Countess
    January 1, 1970
    With writing that is as much raw as it is honest, Moore draws the reader into a Harlem family rampant with issues. Divorce, gang activity, loss of a child, autism, and poverty thread throughout the book, but this is not a bleak read. No, it encourages the reader to do what is right even if it is hard. It reminds the reader that though it may feel as if you are alone, we really are all connected. And The Stars Beneath Our Feet is a nod to creativity, to uniqueness, to being open to all types of p With writing that is as much raw as it is honest, Moore draws the reader into a Harlem family rampant with issues. Divorce, gang activity, loss of a child, autism, and poverty thread throughout the book, but this is not a bleak read. No, it encourages the reader to do what is right even if it is hard. It reminds the reader that though it may feel as if you are alone, we really are all connected. And The Stars Beneath Our Feet is a nod to creativity, to uniqueness, to being open to all types of people, as well as a love song to poetry and the strength of the teacher-student bond. I loved the narration-Lolly is a remarkable young man. My one complaint, if it is one, is the final sentence in the book. It reminded me of how I teach my kids to write their personal narratives-to end strongly with what Nancie Atwell calls a "so-what." In my humble opinion, Moore is capable of more than a ten year old's 1-2 punch. "...when you die, they bury you, but your soul flies to the stars. Your mama, your daddy-they were buried under the ground, but they're stars now, girl, stars beneath our feet.""I had learned it was better to share your stuff. You get back more than you think you would.""Sometimes, Wallace...you just do what you know is right, even if it seems dumb at the time.""...I had learned the most important thing: the decisions you make can become your life. Your choices are you."
    more
  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    12 year old Wallace (Lolly) is grieving the death of his brother while trying to navigate life in St. Nick, the low-income housing development in Harlem where he lives with his mother. As Lolly pursues an interest in architecture expressed through legos and photographs, he and his best friend are being recruited by one gang and routinely followed and attacked by another. Lolly wants to avoid gang life, but it is hard to see another path. Lolly finds support at a community center and from neighbo 12 year old Wallace (Lolly) is grieving the death of his brother while trying to navigate life in St. Nick, the low-income housing development in Harlem where he lives with his mother. As Lolly pursues an interest in architecture expressed through legos and photographs, he and his best friend are being recruited by one gang and routinely followed and attacked by another. Lolly wants to avoid gang life, but it is hard to see another path. Lolly finds support at a community center and from neighborhood mentors. The setting is vividly described and glimpses of a wide variety of cultural backgrounds (Dominican & Trinidadian to name a few) bring depth to family traditions shared with the readers. Lolly is at a turning point in his life and Barclay deftly navigates the readers through his confusion, grief and complicated decision making process. This is an excellent choice for grade 5 and up.
    more
  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    Twelve-year-old Wallace (Lolly) Rachpaul is carrying some heavy baggage as he continues to mourn the death of his older brother Jermaine. Although his mother and her partner try to provide him with the support and love he needs, Lolly blames himself for his brother's death and feels the anger growing. Sometimes he even acts out his anger, something that surprises Lolly. Lolly loves building with the collection of Legos he's received over the years while his best friend Vega seeks solace in his v Twelve-year-old Wallace (Lolly) Rachpaul is carrying some heavy baggage as he continues to mourn the death of his older brother Jermaine. Although his mother and her partner try to provide him with the support and love he needs, Lolly blames himself for his brother's death and feels the anger growing. Sometimes he even acts out his anger, something that surprises Lolly. Lolly loves building with the collection of Legos he's received over the years while his best friend Vega seeks solace in his violin. But both boys are increasingly drawn into the violence of their Harlem neighborhood as a couple of thugs harass them, try to steal their possessions, and persuade them to join their gang. Both boys come perilously close to making the wrong choices, but a surprising turn of events involving one of the adults in their lives sends them in the right direction. Readers will enjoy the interactions between Lolly and Rosamund Major as they try to build two different Lego towers ten feet high, going from enemies and competitors to friends over the course of the book. Clearly, love can save someone, but so can other pursuits such as art, music, and architecture. Who would have imagined that Legos could help someone dream of a brighter future and maybe help him save himself? Well, this book will make a believer out of its readers. The author has done an excellent job of capturing the sights, sounds, and feelings of this particular part of New York City in all its glories and dangers. Growing up on the mean streets of an urban area where even a trip to the bodega can mean watching one's back is never easy, something of which readers will be mindful. Even though the adults in Lolly's life do their best, they have no idea of the daily challenges he faces and the feelings that are swirling within, threatening to overwhelm him. Late intermediate and middle grade readers will relate to the characters here, including chickens and a coyote that somehow survive in the city. Some of the challenges of living in a city where landlords are less than responsive to basic needs such as electrical wiring are described too so that readers see how even life at home is not easy. As Lolly envisions another world, he builds his own, Lego brick by Lego brick. Despite the book's serious topics, there is humor included in its story as well as pain. I will eagerly anticipate more from this author who is covering ground that hasn't been frequently walked here.
    more
  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    The Stars Beneath our Feet is a captivating story of grief and growing up in Harlem, a place at once rich with family and friends but also treacherous, with gangs that pressure young men to join "the easy life." Lolly is a heart-warming character, so honest his words sting, his voice abrupt at times and desperate at others, always seeking a way forward even in a world that seems to want to hold him back. My heart broke for both Lolly and his mother, a courageous woman doing everything she can to The Stars Beneath our Feet is a captivating story of grief and growing up in Harlem, a place at once rich with family and friends but also treacherous, with gangs that pressure young men to join "the easy life." Lolly is a heart-warming character, so honest his words sting, his voice abrupt at times and desperate at others, always seeking a way forward even in a world that seems to want to hold him back. My heart broke for both Lolly and his mother, a courageous woman doing everything she can to make ends meet after the death of Lolly's older brother, Jermaine. I loved seeing how the community rallies around Lolly, and how building with Lego becomes his path to a new place, somewhere that Lolly can think and grow and hope again. My heart was in my throat, waiting to see what Lolly and his friend Vega would ultimately decide about joining the gang life. This is a story I will not soon forget.
    more
  • Estee
    January 1, 1970
    This is a modern day bildungsroman (a coming-of-age novel) featuring a 12 year old boy growing up in Harlem and dealing with the loss of his brother. I liked the writing style. It was easy to read and very descriptive. Here is one of the sentences that I highlighted because I liked the feel of it. "I hung the hood of my blue parka over my head and let the rest of my coat float behind me. It was cold today, but I was feeling hot inside."ooh the imagery. I can totally see it! I love that!This book This is a modern day bildungsroman (a coming-of-age novel) featuring a 12 year old boy growing up in Harlem and dealing with the loss of his brother. I liked the writing style. It was easy to read and very descriptive. Here is one of the sentences that I highlighted because I liked the feel of it. "I hung the hood of my blue parka over my head and let the rest of my coat float behind me. It was cold today, but I was feeling hot inside."ooh the imagery. I can totally see it! I love that!This book was a little slow for me at times. And I had to constantly keep reminding myself that Lolly was a 12 year old boy. He seems so much older. While I was reading, I kept comparing it to The Hate U Give, because it had a similar feel to it. But I liked THUG a lot more. Overall it was a good book with some really important messaging for young adults. "Since then I had learned the most important thing: the decisions you make can become your life. Your choices are you." Yes. Thank you. I will leave you with a little bit from the authors note:"Listening, I think, is the best way to learn about those who differ from you. Reading is a form of listening."Thank you David Barclay Moore!
    more
  • Samantha
    January 1, 1970
    David Barclay Moore introduces you to Wallace a.k.a Lolly. A young boy growing up in Harlem, forced to cope in his own way with the loss of his older brother. Moore tells a story of not only diversity but of grief in the urban community, unlikely friendships, and how creativity can truly be an outlet for emotion.
    more
  • Clare Lund
    January 1, 1970
    I'll admit that I first picked up this book because of the cover art - what a beautiful story about finding your own place in the world, no matter how unconventional it may be. I loved Lolly's inner monologue.It also had a heartbreaking way of reminding me that America needs to do a lot better for so many of our kids, so they never think this about themselves at the age of 12:"Lolly, I think you'll be a good architect. Or whatever you wanna do.""Thanks, Vega. We both know I won't ever be nothing I'll admit that I first picked up this book because of the cover art - what a beautiful story about finding your own place in the world, no matter how unconventional it may be. I loved Lolly's inner monologue.It also had a heartbreaking way of reminding me that America needs to do a lot better for so many of our kids, so they never think this about themselves at the age of 12:"Lolly, I think you'll be a good architect. Or whatever you wanna do.""Thanks, Vega. We both know I won't ever be nothing."Recommended for 7th grade and up!
    more
  • Joanne Kelleher
    January 1, 1970
    Your heart really goes out to Lolly. He definitely has way too much on his plate for a 12-year-old.Throughout the book he is grieving, and his grief sometimes steers him in the wrong direction or brings out a darkness that he does not always want to suppress. For the most part, I liked his character.I also enjoyed Lolly and Rosamund's trips around the city to study architecture as an inspiration for his Lego buildings.ON the negative side, I thought that there was just too much going on in the b Your heart really goes out to Lolly. He definitely has way too much on his plate for a 12-year-old.Throughout the book he is grieving, and his grief sometimes steers him in the wrong direction or brings out a darkness that he does not always want to suppress. For the most part, I liked his character.I also enjoyed Lolly and Rosamund's trips around the city to study architecture as an inspiration for his Lego buildings.ON the negative side, I thought that there was just too much going on in the book: gang-related violence, Lesbian moms, divorce, a friend on the spectrum, architecture, and a coyote in the park. It seemed to be trying too hard.
    more
  • Brian
    January 1, 1970
    (4.0) Excellent, touching, sincerePre-reading this to see which age it's likely appropriate for. Probably something more like 9 or 10 years old, though I may want to read and discuss with younger children. I really like the voice of the narrating character, Lolly. He's honest with us, even when he's reluctant to talk about sensitive subjects. The plot veers a little unrealistic, but still at its heart feels real and I was fully invested.Moore covers a lot of ground here: art, poverty, hope, gang (4.0) Excellent, touching, sincerePre-reading this to see which age it's likely appropriate for. Probably something more like 9 or 10 years old, though I may want to read and discuss with younger children. I really like the voice of the narrating character, Lolly. He's honest with us, even when he's reluctant to talk about sensitive subjects. The plot veers a little unrealistic, but still at its heart feels real and I was fully invested.Moore covers a lot of ground here: art, poverty, hope, gangs, violence, friendship, love, sexual orientation, adolescence, autism, class gaps. He also shows that a few people who really care and invest in children can help them navigate a difficult life and begin to make tough but smart decisions for themselves. Makes sense given that he worked with Geoffrey Canada. :)
    more
  • Kelli
    January 1, 1970
    Love, love, love this book. Can't wait to get it in the hands of some middle school kiddos.
  • Cassie Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    It amazes me how books have a way of finding their way to you. I started reading this after my dad passed a couple of weeks ago having no idea what the story was in its entirety. Lolly is finding himself while being consumed in his grief of his brothers death. It’s a story to help kids see the big picture, to see there is life after death and you can choose to live or slowly die yourself. It’s powerful.
    more
  • Krista
    January 1, 1970
    A thoughtful exploration of what it means to be a sensitive, creative young black man growing up in New York City and dealing with a devastating loss. I loved the colorful depiction of Harlem, Lolly's connection with his friends and family, and the Lego storyline. A unique and touching book.
    more
  • Nikki Ibarra
    January 1, 1970
    8.Choose two characters from the book and have them exchange letters discussing how each feels about the activities taking place in the story. It would be helpful to provide a short character analysis of each person before the letters are written so it is evident why each person feels as he/she does.The two characters I am choosing are Wallace Rachpaul (Lolly) and Rosamund (Rose) and they are both main characters in the story in which it revolves around. They are both around the same age (12 yea 8.Choose two characters from the book and have them exchange letters discussing how each feels about the activities taking place in the story. It would be helpful to provide a short character analysis of each person before the letters are written so it is evident why each person feels as he/she does.The two characters I am choosing are Wallace Rachpaul (Lolly) and Rosamund (Rose) and they are both main characters in the story in which it revolves around. They are both around the same age (12 years old) and go to an after-school program where they spend a lot of time together. Lolly is dealing with the loss of his older brother and Rose is dealing with isolation due to being on the autism spectrum. They spend all their time building with legos to get away from the problems they have to deal with in their personal lives.Dear Rose, I'm really sorry about how I treated you during our competition. You did a really good job on your tower and I really couldn't keep up, so I got a little excited when the AC blew it over, but I shouldn't have been so nasty about it. Before you began to build with my legos, that storage room was my getaway from life's problems, so when you came in, I felt attacked. I've been really mean lately to everyone and I don't know why. I guess I'm still angry that my brother died and when I'm building, I forget it ever happened. I'm kind of glad Mr. Ali let you build in the storage room with me because it's nice to talk to someone who gets building with legos as much as me. I also don't mind it so much since we each just do our own thing mostly, but your buildings are pretty good and look really familiar. Are they our neighborhood or am I just crazy? Maybe one day we can go look at really cool looking buildings and you can build those too. I'll see you in the storage room tomorrow!Sincerely,Lolly RachpaulLolly, I like to build a lot too. I think maybe we can go look at buildings one day if my grandma lets me. I did build our neighborhood and from memory, too. I don't need a camera to remember the buildings we see, I just remember everything I see, but not because I'm autistic. I just have a really good memory. Gran always tells me I'm not autistic, so it's true. I guess it doesn't matter that you were mean. Everyone is mean, but that's why I fight everyone. People like Sunnshyne are everywhere. My tongue hurt for 3 days after she gave me that jalapeno in chocolate. I don't like Sunnshyne. She's crazy for walking around with that chicken everywhere, so it doesn't matter if she's mean because she's also weird. Your brother died, and so did my mom. She died and got buried, but her soul flew to the stars. Your brother too. RoseRosamund, Thanks for helping me out back their with Harp and Gully. I would like to think I could've taken them myself, but honestly they would have all my change and my phone if you didn't swoop by. You got them really good, I hope that makes them stay away for awhile. I can't believe you really are building all we saw in Midtown by memory. The buildings are so accurate and I have pictures to prove it! Maybe we should build something together in the future. It would have been so awesome if we built something for Tuttle's emporium and got famous that way. I'm sorry my mom's girlfriend, Yvonne, made that opportunity away because she was stealing all of those legos and not taking them from the trash like she was telling us. Our buildings are coming along so great so far, I'm really mad that they want us to tear it down soon. Don't worry though, I'll make sure we get lots of pictures. I really like how you used stars to represent where people closed to you have passed. It goes along with that thing you're always saying. What is it? "Rosamund, when you die, they bury you, but your soul flies to the stars." Imagine being up so close, you can touch the stars? Anyway, I had fun building next to you. See you tomorrow,Wallace RachpaulLolly,Harp and Gully deserved that. They shouldn't be bullying someone just because they're small. I knew I should help because it'll probably scare them that I'm so tall. I guess that's why they call me Big Rose. I hate when people call me that, especially Mr. Ali and Ladybug. It's okay about Tuttle's, I didn't really want to build anything since I had to destroy everything. I was just going to stay home anyway. Yvonne was dumb. Her mistake got everyone at after-school a lot of legos though, so that's okay. That is my favorite poem I saw in one of Gran's books. I won't be seeing you at after- school anymore. Mr. Ali got me going somewhere where they can help me more than a normal school. You can come visit if you want, just don't give me another book with bad poems. If you could find me another architecture book like yours, I would rather get that. We can both be architects and make the city look pretty again. RoseI chose this alternative to the book report because you really get to see all of the main events and plots the characters are going through and also get to see how the student understood the character. This gives the students a chance to be creative and get into the mind of their characters and portray that however they think would make it seem more authentic. They could use the slang in the book, style of voice, or thoughts quoted from the book to get the feel for the characters if they choose to. Also, it was a good alternative for this book specifically because you got to see and learn a lot about the characters in this book, so this assignment should be relatively easy (if the student read the book) because it gave so much detail about the characters in the book. "No one piece of text can meet the needs of all readers," (Miller) because of this quote, I think this alternative option is very beneficial because if you are looking to let your students chose their own book for this part of the class, you can get a clear understanding whether the student really read or not. A student who read will fill the letters with plots, settings, and other small details to complete the assignment successfully. It's also a fun way to engage students and motivate them to do their homework without dreading writing super long essays. On top of that, it'll be about a book they care about, so more effort will be put forth, unlike the traditional book report which as Donalyn Miller states, "Whole-class novels ignore students’ interest in what they like to read."Miller, Donalyn. The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child (Kindle Location 1799). Wiley. Kindle Edition.
    more
  • Melissa Flanagin
    January 1, 1970
    "Rosamund, when you die, they bury you, but your soul flies to the stars. Your Mama, your daddy-they were buried under the ground, but they're stars now, girl, stars beneath our feet." Okay seriously where did David Barclay Moore come from and when do I get more? This was hands down an absolute delight. Lolly was such an interesting kid. Just the way he dealt with the pain of losing his older brother to a gang shooting by building a beautiful city, "Harmonee" with LEGOS. As Lolly goes through th "Rosamund, when you die, they bury you, but your soul flies to the stars. Your Mama, your daddy-they were buried under the ground, but they're stars now, girl, stars beneath our feet." Okay seriously where did David Barclay Moore come from and when do I get more? This was hands down an absolute delight. Lolly was such an interesting kid. Just the way he dealt with the pain of losing his older brother to a gang shooting by building a beautiful city, "Harmonee" with LEGOS. As Lolly goes through the process of learning to accept that his brother is gone he gets huge trash bags of LEGOS from his mom's girlfriend. He takes them to the After School Center Program and closes himself off from the other students in a huge storage room and just starts building. But soon curiosity gets to the students especially a fellow student Big Rose. Big Rose ends up building with him which in turn helps her deal with some issues. I recommend this book to middle and high school ages. It was an excellent read.
    more
  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    Compelling story of young boy trying to cope with his grief and anger surrounding his brother's death. The picture of his neighborhood and the pressures on Lolly to join a crew is especially well drawn and adds strong tension.Lolly's escape through his Lego creations was my favorite part of the story though. As a device it is unusual but so effective and Lolly's growth and understanding of himself as a real artist is skillfully portrayed. So many kids have experience with Legos and I love the id Compelling story of young boy trying to cope with his grief and anger surrounding his brother's death. The picture of his neighborhood and the pressures on Lolly to join a crew is especially well drawn and adds strong tension.Lolly's escape through his Lego creations was my favorite part of the story though. As a device it is unusual but so effective and Lolly's growth and understanding of himself as a real artist is skillfully portrayed. So many kids have experience with Legos and I love the idea of how creative play is shown to be a welcome escape, healing and provides such growth. His slowly evolving friendship with Big Rose and his struggles with his friend Vega feel authentic and is central to the story.Just occasionally the story edged into being a tad overt with a message but it didn't happen often or slow the story and there is strong sense of the author caring deeply about both his characters and his readers.
    more
  • Jenny
    January 1, 1970
    YALSA #BFYA2019 nominee; read review here: http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2018/...
  • Michele Knott
    January 1, 1970
    Very very powerful read. A book that provides windows and mirrors. Recommended for upper middle grade readers.
  • Mr. Steve
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars. I thought this book was really good but also very important. A lot of middle grade books starring POC are historical fiction. It is really a breath of fresh air that a story like this was written in a contemporary time frame. While it does read a bit older at times than middle grade (theme-wise), the writing is right in the middle grade wheelhouse, and such beautiful writing it is.This book would be eye-opening to many suburban kids who really don't realize that a kid who is their sam 4.5 stars. I thought this book was really good but also very important. A lot of middle grade books starring POC are historical fiction. It is really a breath of fresh air that a story like this was written in a contemporary time frame. While it does read a bit older at times than middle grade (theme-wise), the writing is right in the middle grade wheelhouse, and such beautiful writing it is.This book would be eye-opening to many suburban kids who really don't realize that a kid who is their same age, who also wants to make his parents proud, and with whom they might share a similar interest (Legos, architecture) could live in a place where his cell phone or jacket is stolen just because he is walking outside his neighborhood and where losing his temper at the wrong time with the wrong people might mean he loses his life as well. Lolly is a kid to cheer for, someone who represents thousands of kids who have the strength and the ability and the drive to make it out of the city - as long as the city doesn't knock it out of them first. I bought this for our children's department (ages 0-12), and I will happily recommend it to lots of kids. Truthfully, however, I will likely give a heads-up to parents that this book does include language that their kids might not be used to reading in their fiction ("nigga" is a prime example), derogatory comments about homosexuals ("limp-wristed," among others), and even a sexual reference which will probably go over the heads of most of its readership ("My bibi told me that if you do it with a girl before you're old enough, your thing will shrivel away like a twig in a fire"). I hope that this book finds an audience.
    more
Write a review