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. 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.

The Stars Beneath Our Feet Details

TitleThe Stars Beneath Our Feet
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 19th, 2017
PublisherAlfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN-139781524701253
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, Death, Cultural, African American, Realistic Fiction, Glbt, Fiction

The Stars Beneath Our Feet Review

  • 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!
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  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    E ARC from Edelweiss Above the TreelineWallace (Lolly) Rauchpaul lives with his mother and her girlfriend Yvonne in the St. Nick projects in Harlem; his father visits infrequently but does occasionally stop by. The family is struggling with the fairly recent shooting death of Lolly's older brother Jermaine as Christmas approaches. Lolly is especially affected, since he is approached by gangs in the neighborhood for various reasons, but wants nothing to do with them. His best friend, Vega, is als E ARC from Edelweiss Above the TreelineWallace (Lolly) Rauchpaul lives with his mother and her girlfriend Yvonne in the St. Nick projects in Harlem; his father visits infrequently but does occasionally stop by. The family is struggling with the fairly recent shooting death of Lolly's older brother Jermaine as Christmas approaches. Lolly is especially affected, since he is approached by gangs in the neighborhood for various reasons, but wants nothing to do with them. His best friend, Vega, is also struggling with his relationship to the gangs, especially after his cousin is shot. Lolly is fortunate that he has a community center to attend, and he finds a mentor in Mr. Ali. Lolly loves to build things with Legos, and always follows the blueprints like a good architect should, but he finally decides to put all of the Legos together and build one enormous building. He is aided in this endeavor by bags of Lego bricks that would have been thrown away if Yvonne, who works at Tuttle's toy shop, didn't bring them home. The sculpture eventually starts to take over the apartment, and he gets permission to build in the community center. At the center, he starts to talk more to Rose, who is "different" but enjoys architecture as much as Lolly does. The two work together, and Lolly learns to appreciate her differences. When the sculpture comes to the attention of the news media, there are both good and bad consequences, and Lolly continues his journey of healing and of making his own way in his Harlem neighborhood. Strengths: This was an #ownvoices story that doesn't shy away from the harsher realities of living in the projects in Harlem, but doesn't resort to stereotypical characters. There should be a lot more books that involve children who are interested in building with Legos! The book includes a wide but not unrealistic range of diversity, with Lolly's mother, Rose, and Vega. The book is descriptive without being slow paced, and the plot and character development are entertaining. Weaknesses: There is a significant amount of negative language in the book. People make fun of Rose because she is large and does not relate well to people (at the end of the book she is diagnosed as being on the Autism spectrum); there is a discussion of whether a girl has a "fat booty" and other instances of commenting on people's bodies; references to gay friends as "limp wrist", and several conversational uses of the term "nigga". What I really think: As a white, middle class, suburban female, I do not feel qualified to tell whether or not the language in this book is appropriate. There is a lot of controversy even among the African-American community about the use of any form of the word "nigger". (http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitc...) Looking at the book from my point of privilege, many of the interactions seem mean, but I will await the thoughts of others who have more of a right to opine. However, based on conversations with African American parents about books during several Black History Month assignments, I think that this book could offend children and their parents at my school, so I am reluctant to buy it. If I see positive reviews by #ownvoices writers that offer explanations for this language, I may change my mind.
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  • Shenwei
    January 1, 1970
    an important and lovely story about friendship, creativity and developing healthy coping skills
  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • Melissa Mcavoy
    January 1, 1970
    4 1/2 stars. Twelve year-old Lolly has a lot on his plate. He's a regular kid with a passion for Lego's, but, as he and his best friend Vega both know, the world of navigating his 'crew' divided neighborhood gets far more complicated once you are no longer a little kid. What makes it far worse is the loss of Lolly's older brother Jermaine and the absence of their dad Benny. But Lolly and his community have a lot going for them, and as circumstances push and test Lolly, he responds with creativit 4 1/2 stars. Twelve year-old Lolly has a lot on his plate. He's a regular kid with a passion for Lego's, but, as he and his best friend Vega both know, the world of navigating his 'crew' divided neighborhood gets far more complicated once you are no longer a little kid. What makes it far worse is the loss of Lolly's older brother Jermaine and the absence of their dad Benny. But Lolly and his community have a lot going for them, and as circumstances push and test Lolly, he responds with creativity, grace, intelligence and charm. Kids of all circumstances and backgrounds will identify with Lolly and his efforts to navigate the beginnings of adolescence and place himself on the path to becoming an excellent adult.I appreciate the richness of several of the current middle grade offerings: Saturdays with Hitchcock, The Stars beneath our Feet, (more to be added soon)...Not only do the books explore the typical tween issues: friendship in a shifting landscape, incipient romance, relationships with parents and siblings, nurturing individual passions, they also explore the complex world beyond the self: the layered relationships among older adults, the concerns of aging, parenting and financial responsibility, the rewards of appreciating those who are different and the need to forgive and appreciate good intentions. Also much appreciated is the inclusion of sexual, racial and socioeconomic diversity as part of the natural background of life, not the heavy-handed center of an after-school-special style problem novel.Reviewed from an ARC
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  • Sharon
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars, 5/6&upStill trying to come to terms with his older brother's gang-related death, 12 yo Lolly (Wallace) isn't really looking forward to the holidays. With his father barely in the picture, money not easy to come by, and gang members and bullies dogging his every move, Lolly is hard pressed to find peace of mind. Then his mom's new girlfriend give him a Christmas present; two huge garbage bags filled with Legos. Through this gift, Lolly finds a quiet space to let his mind heal, a ne 3.5 stars, 5/6&upStill trying to come to terms with his older brother's gang-related death, 12 yo Lolly (Wallace) isn't really looking forward to the holidays. With his father barely in the picture, money not easy to come by, and gang members and bullies dogging his every move, Lolly is hard pressed to find peace of mind. Then his mom's new girlfriend give him a Christmas present; two huge garbage bags filled with Legos. Through this gift, Lolly finds a quiet space to let his mind heal, a new friend, the will to resist the easy answers, and a glimpse of a future that is brighter than he had previously dared to hope.Filled with dark but realistic challenges and situations, as well as the love and support of well-drawn neighborhood friends and family, this is a great choice for middle school readers looking for a realistic fiction book that will keep them turning pages.This ARC was obtained at BookExpo17- with thanks to Knopf Books for Young Readers/ Random House- in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jake Burt
    January 1, 1970
    (NB: This review is based on an ARC copy produced prior to publication)As a reader, I thoroughly enjoyed The Stars Beneath Our Feet. I found Lolly's journey through the emotional morass left in the wake of his brother's murder to be deeply compelling, tightly written, and honest. There are moments when Lolly is intentionally mean, seeking that brief catharsis that projecting his pain onto others will bring, and I think readers of all ages will instantly identify with his motivations, as well as (NB: This review is based on an ARC copy produced prior to publication)As a reader, I thoroughly enjoyed The Stars Beneath Our Feet. I found Lolly's journey through the emotional morass left in the wake of his brother's murder to be deeply compelling, tightly written, and honest. There are moments when Lolly is intentionally mean, seeking that brief catharsis that projecting his pain onto others will bring, and I think readers of all ages will instantly identify with his motivations, as well as the inevitable guilt and self-reflection that follow. I also thought Moore did a brilliant job capturing the tension between the worlds of childhood creativity and adult responsibility; there are moments when Lolly's lego castle-building serves as an apt metaphor for the defensive walls children build in order to cope with realities they are not yet ready to process.I'd also like to address the novel as an upper elementary school teacher. Because the author elected to approach Lolly's experiences in a realistic fashion, readers will encounter language, family situations, and themes that some may find problematic. Educators and librarians will absolutely want to preview the novel before recommending it to middle-grade or upper elementary audiences, and decide based upon their particular community's readiness whether to use the novel with their students and young patrons. It may be that your students need more scaffolding before approaching Lolly's story. However, it also may be that you're looking for texts to help support important conversations in your community about race, class, complex or non-traditional family structures, and the impact of violence on young people. If you are ready to engage in those vital conversations, and you're looking for a way to ground the discussion in a powerful, relatable narrative framework, then Mr. Barclay Moore's book might be precisely the story you're looking for.
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  • Michele Knott
    January 1, 1970
    Very very powerful read. A book that provides windows and mirrors. Recommended for upper middle grade readers.
  • 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. 
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  • Shirley Freeman
    January 1, 1970
    This is a wonderful novel for ages 10 and up set in modern day Harlem. Twelve year old 'Lolly' (nickname) is mourning the loss of his older brother to gang violence. Lolly lives in the projects, negotiates the streets and dreams of being a designer or architect. His current medium is Legos. Building a Lego city, at home and then at school when a perceptive principal allows the use of a storeroom, becomes Lolly's therapy for dealing with loss and life. Lolly's issues will resonate with any child This is a wonderful novel for ages 10 and up set in modern day Harlem. Twelve year old 'Lolly' (nickname) is mourning the loss of his older brother to gang violence. Lolly lives in the projects, negotiates the streets and dreams of being a designer or architect. His current medium is Legos. Building a Lego city, at home and then at school when a perceptive principal allows the use of a storeroom, becomes Lolly's therapy for dealing with loss and life. Lolly's issues will resonate with any child - but especially with children whose lives are under-represented in children's literature. I hope this becomes well-known and well-loved. I read the ARC to be published in September.
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    12-year-old Wallace (“Lolly”) Rachpaul lives in St. Nicholas Houses, a public housing project in Central Harlem, New York City. He lives alone with his mother; she and Lolly’s dad split up after his mother decided she preferred women. His mother has been in a happy relationship with her girlfriend Yvonne for a long time. But Lolly and his mother both still hurt from the loss of Lolly's brother Jermaine; Jermaine got caught up in gangs and drugs and was shot and killed the previous Halloween. Lol 12-year-old Wallace (“Lolly”) Rachpaul lives in St. Nicholas Houses, a public housing project in Central Harlem, New York City. He lives alone with his mother; she and Lolly’s dad split up after his mother decided she preferred women. His mother has been in a happy relationship with her girlfriend Yvonne for a long time. But Lolly and his mother both still hurt from the loss of Lolly's brother Jermaine; Jermaine got caught up in gangs and drugs and was shot and killed the previous Halloween. Lolly has still not dealt with the pain and guilt over Jermaine’s death.Lolly loves legos, so in an effort to help Lolly cope, Yvonne starts bringing him great big bags full of legos she said that Tuttle’s, the toy store where she worked, was throwing out. She brings more and more, and Lolly starts to build a castle. It gets too big for their apartment, so he begins it again in a storeroom at the community center where he spends after-school.Every day Lolly adds on to his castle he names “The House of Moneekrom.” He dreams up a whole fantasy world around it, eventually even developing it into a game his after-school mates can play. The storeroom is a refuge for Lolly - not only from his pent-up feelings, but from the predatory world outside on the streets, where he and his friend Vega must constantly dodging rival gangs, bullies, and attempts to recruit them to “crews.” They sympathize with a local wild coyote they see on the streets: “Our coyote was part of a species in danger. Hunted down and shot up. We knew how it felt.”After a time the social worker, Mr. Ali, lets another classmate, Rose, into the storeroom to use the legos also, much to Lolly’s dismay. Rose is on the autism spectrum, and is suffering from a loss in her own family. At first Lolly is loathe to share with her, but he slowly becomes impressed with Rose and her skills. They come to an understanding and eventually even to a collaboration and friendship.When a new fitness program decides to move into the center and use the storeroom, Rose and Lolly are told they have to tear down their cities. They are upset, but when Lolly displays parts of his construction at a community fair, pictures of it go viral on social media along with ecstatic commentary. Lolly gets lots of compliments on his art, which helps him feel better about himself. But then the police come to Lolly's apartment, and once again they are facing a catastrophic threat to their family.Lolly finally opens up about what has kept him feeling so awful about Jermaine, and what he has learned from all that happened since Jermaine's death, especially the long-lasting import of decisions you make. He decides he is not Lolly anymore; he is Wallace. Evaluation: This is an affecting coming-of-age story about how a young boy and his family learn to cope with the pain of losing a family member to gang violence. The outcome isn't always certain as Lolly struggles with outlets for his anger. Lolly isn’t perfect, but it’s hard not to love him anyway. Rose makes the perfect foil. There are a number of issues to ponder about the moral choices of the characters, which would make this a good option for book clubs.Rating: 3.5/5
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  • Margeaux Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    Like many 12-year-olds, Lolly Rachpaul is just trying to be himself. His father treats parenting like a part-time job, his mother is enjoying her new girlfriend and his big brother is dead. While Lolly tries to maneuver the streets of Harlem, he can’t quite shake his brother’s murder. His escape? Legos. Lolly considers himself a master Lego builder and fills his room-which still holds his brother’s bed-with intricate buildings that fill the void his brother left. As we learn more about Lolly’s l Like many 12-year-olds, Lolly Rachpaul is just trying to be himself. His father treats parenting like a part-time job, his mother is enjoying her new girlfriend and his big brother is dead. While Lolly tries to maneuver the streets of Harlem, he can’t quite shake his brother’s murder. His escape? Legos. Lolly considers himself a master Lego builder and fills his room-which still holds his brother’s bed-with intricate buildings that fill the void his brother left. As we learn more about Lolly’s life, we begin to understand his need to escape. The neighborhood bullies who are around every corner and an after-school program counselor whose counsel sometimes causes more anxiety than help, all add to the reality Lolly tries to escape. While the story dives into the difficulties Lolly faces, it also highlights the dynamic relationships he develops with unlikely friends and the colorful blocks he builds to re-connect with reality.This story was very authentic and Lolly’s friendships and interaction with his peers seemed to lift right off of the conversations of today’s middle schoolers. The dialogue and thoughts between the young boys were really dynamic. The author did a great job showing these kids dealing with some of the same trauma and emotions that adults deal with-with less preparation and less ability to pretend that everything is okay. Lolly’s story will definitely appeal to middle graders who enjoy stories with real-life issues.In all, this book is a story about connections. Lolly uses the Legos to connect the pieces of his life, as well as provide an escape into an alternate world that he controls. It isn’t until his fantasy world is shaken that he understands that those same blocks can help him create beauty in his real life. Great read for ages 10 &up. Realistic Fiction.Disclaimer: I was not given this book in exchange for a fair review. I received an ARC by entering a social media giveaway, and chose to review the copy received.
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  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    When Lolly Rachpaul loses his older brother to an act of gang violence, seemingly every choice he makes from that moment forward will determine the course of his life. I loved almost everything about this book. The way that urban kids are portrayed here gives them a sense of agency and seeing them beyond just a label. Lolly is more than just an "at risk" youth. The characters in this book, while set in the projects, are by no means written in a way that makes us pity them. Their lives are rich e When Lolly Rachpaul loses his older brother to an act of gang violence, seemingly every choice he makes from that moment forward will determine the course of his life. I loved almost everything about this book. The way that urban kids are portrayed here gives them a sense of agency and seeing them beyond just a label. Lolly is more than just an "at risk" youth. The characters in this book, while set in the projects, are by no means written in a way that makes us pity them. Their lives are rich even if their pocketbooks aren't. Overall, I really loved The Stars Beneath Our Feet. It reminded me so much of my favorite Jason Reynolds book, When I Was the Greatest. However, there was one thing I found problematic about the story and it wasn't even the colloquial use of the N word (which might be a shock to some elementary teachers, so just be prepared). I thought that the way LGBT characters were talked about and portrayed was bordering on pejorative. I don't doubt that every writerly move that Moore made in this book was done in a way that was meant to feel authentic to the community he was writing about, and perhaps Lolly's attitudes toward those who identify as LGBT stems from his resentment toward his mother leaving his father for a woman, but I'm still kind of squirming a little bit at the portions of the book when he talks about other gay characters. For all these reasons, this is a book I look forward to discussing with other teachers, librarians, and kids when it hits bookstores in September.
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    Wallace Rachpaul—Lolly to family and friends—lives in the St. Nick “PJs” in Harlem. His older brother, Jermaine, was killed just a few months ago. Now Lolly is facing the first Christmas, and the rest of his life, without Jermaine.In The Stars Beneath Our Feet, we get an up-close look at Lolly’s grief and his reactions to people who try to help him work through his intense emotions. He is drawn into battles over joining “crews,” continues to live in a world where he walks past the “street pharma Wallace Rachpaul—Lolly to family and friends—lives in the St. Nick “PJs” in Harlem. His older brother, Jermaine, was killed just a few months ago. Now Lolly is facing the first Christmas, and the rest of his life, without Jermaine.In The Stars Beneath Our Feet, we get an up-close look at Lolly’s grief and his reactions to people who try to help him work through his intense emotions. He is drawn into battles over joining “crews,” continues to live in a world where he walks past the “street pharmacist” on his way home, and has to avoid using his smartphone in public for fear of being robbed.Lolly finds an outlet for his sorrow when his mother’s girlfriend brings home two trash bags full of Lego pieces. He begins to build, a creation that first takes over his apartment, and then a room at “after-school.”Readers will be immediately drawn into this honest and heartfelt foray into a world that is unfortunately all-too real for too many children. Don’t start this book if you don’t have time to keep reading it—you won’t want to put it down!I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Several months ago, Lolly's brother was murdered and it has been tough living with this pain. Things become especially difficult during the Christmas season, when Lolly is continuously reminded of his brother's absence. Yvonne, Lolly's mom's girlfriend, gives Lolly a garbage bag full of Legos, which he begins building with in an attempt to address the emotional pain he is experiencing. As pressures surrounding his family, gang violence, and grief begin to mount, Lolly takes solace in his Legos. Several months ago, Lolly's brother was murdered and it has been tough living with this pain. Things become especially difficult during the Christmas season, when Lolly is continuously reminded of his brother's absence. Yvonne, Lolly's mom's girlfriend, gives Lolly a garbage bag full of Legos, which he begins building with in an attempt to address the emotional pain he is experiencing. As pressures surrounding his family, gang violence, and grief begin to mount, Lolly takes solace in his Legos. When Lolly brings his Legos to the after-school program he attends, a fellow attendee, Rose, encroaches on his space and begins adding her own Lego city. This unlikely friendship helps Lolly through his grieving process and gives him hope for getting out of the projects and avoiding becoming a gang member. This novel was sweet and empowering. I felt that there were character types that are not typically seen portrayed as being African American, such as Rose, who was on the autism spectrum. The descriptions were developed and beautiful, I wish that this could be turned into a graphic novel, or illustrations would be added.
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  • Michelle Kidwell
    January 1, 1970
    The Stars Beneath Our Feetby David Barclay MooreRandom House Children'sKnopf Books for Young ReadersChildren's FictionPub Date 19 Sep 2017 I am reviewing a copy of The Stars Beneath Our Feet through Random House Children/Knopf Book for Young Readers and Netgalley:Christmas Eve in Harlem but Lolly Rachpaul and his Mother will not be celebrating. Just a few months earlier Lolly's older brother was killed in a gang related shooting. But Lolly's Mother's girlfriend gives him an enormous bag full of The Stars Beneath Our Feetby David Barclay MooreRandom House Children'sKnopf Books for Young ReadersChildren's FictionPub Date 19 Sep 2017 I am reviewing a copy of The Stars Beneath Our Feet through Random House Children/Knopf Book for Young Readers and Netgalley:Christmas Eve in Harlem but Lolly Rachpaul and his Mother will not be celebrating. Just a few months earlier Lolly's older brother was killed in a gang related shooting. But Lolly's Mother's girlfriend gives him an enormous bag full of lego's Lolly loves lego's.Lolly often feels pressured to join a crew like his brother did, but after loosing his brother he has no interest in that lifestyle. After Lolly and his friend are beaten and robbed he feels that may be his safest choice. But building a lego's city offers Lolly the escape he needs.This book deals with the subject of grief, and gang violence in a clear cut way. Lolly is a character you quickly grow to like.I give The Stars Beneath Our Feet five out of five stars!Happy Reading!
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  • Jennifer Jamieson
    January 1, 1970
    Wallace Rachpaul--his friends call him Lolly--has always loved Legos. After his brother is shot dead in the street by a rival gang the Legos become an escape of sorts, allowing him to create a world under his control.His mother has him enrolled in a community center program, and he finds that creating his imaginary city in Legos alongside an unconventional new friend is far better therapy than talking to Mr. Ali about how he feels. It gives him the strength he needs when the choice to seek reven Wallace Rachpaul--his friends call him Lolly--has always loved Legos. After his brother is shot dead in the street by a rival gang the Legos become an escape of sorts, allowing him to create a world under his control.His mother has him enrolled in a community center program, and he finds that creating his imaginary city in Legos alongside an unconventional new friend is far better therapy than talking to Mr. Ali about how he feels. It gives him the strength he needs when the choice to seek revenge for his brother's death or build the future he so desperately wants stands before him.A touching book about having to grow up far too fast, and the realities that inner city youth are confronted with. Lolly fights to develop coping skills and learns that being different isn't a bad thing when he takes the time to get to know an autistic girl who starts building with him at the community center.Beautiful, and would appeal to readers young and old alike.
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  • Sarah Pickles
    January 1, 1970
    Set in modern day Harlem we meet Lolly a young man grieving the gang shooting of his brother Jermaine and going through the stages of grief as he struggles to find direction in life. Although this book is obviously very heavy as Lolly tries to stay safe, stay alive and try his best to stay out of the crews, it is also about so much more. It is about following your passion, for Lolly and Big Rose, building with Lego for Vega playing the violin. Not only do these passions motivate these youngsters Set in modern day Harlem we meet Lolly a young man grieving the gang shooting of his brother Jermaine and going through the stages of grief as he struggles to find direction in life. Although this book is obviously very heavy as Lolly tries to stay safe, stay alive and try his best to stay out of the crews, it is also about so much more. It is about following your passion, for Lolly and Big Rose, building with Lego for Vega playing the violin. Not only do these passions motivate these youngsters but they also provide them therapy, a sense of belonging as they begin to see themselves as engineers or musicians, a sense of purpose and a sense of identity. Being obsessed with Lego as Lolly tries to stay out of the gangs may sound a strange dichotomy but it works brilliantly making this a powerful story about social issues, about growing up and about struggling to find self worth and identity.
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  • 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.
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  • Alicia
    January 1, 1970
    I'm divided on the cover. Yes it's a middle grade, so the brightness of the Legos beneath Lolly's feet as he walks down the street is artistically rendered rather than a photograph, there's enough within the story to make it appealing to older readers too and the cover might in turn turn them off. Alas, I love the cover as it truly captures Lolly's passion for Legos and his maneuvering adolescence. His older brother Jermaine has been killed and his father is absent. His mom has a girlfriend. The I'm divided on the cover. Yes it's a middle grade, so the brightness of the Legos beneath Lolly's feet as he walks down the street is artistically rendered rather than a photograph, there's enough within the story to make it appealing to older readers too and the cover might in turn turn them off. Alas, I love the cover as it truly captures Lolly's passion for Legos and his maneuvering adolescence. His older brother Jermaine has been killed and his father is absent. His mom has a girlfriend. There are decisions Lolly has to make about whether he should align with a crew to get him through his teenage years, just as his older brother was doing. It's growing up and taking responsibility but also being compassionate as he meets Rosamund, a girl who has the same interest in Legos but is on the autistic spectrum. It's navigating the world and everything around you. It's a look at a boy coming into his own in spectacular fashion.
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  • Christy
    January 1, 1970
    A boy tries to steer a safe path through the projects in Harlem in the wake of his brother's death.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 instructi A boy tries to steer a safe path through the projects in Harlem in the wake of his brother's death.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
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  • Mary Librarian
    January 1, 1970
    Wallace "Lolly" is twelve, his family is originally from the Caribbean, and he is growing up on the streets of Harlem, NY. His mom has a girlfriend, his dad is only around occasionally, and his older brother was recently murdered. Lolly is dealing with the pull and push of rival crews that are pushing for him and his best friend Vega to pick a side.The joy and light in his life are the LEGOs he uses to build his own city and that draws him to Rose who is autistic and attending the same after sch Wallace "Lolly" is twelve, his family is originally from the Caribbean, and he is growing up on the streets of Harlem, NY. His mom has a girlfriend, his dad is only around occasionally, and his older brother was recently murdered. Lolly is dealing with the pull and push of rival crews that are pushing for him and his best friend Vega to pick a side.The joy and light in his life are the LEGOs he uses to build his own city and that draws him to Rose who is autistic and attending the same after school program.This feels like a true to life, slice of life novel. Real decisions are made and some have bad consequences. The ending leaves the reader with hope that Lolly is going to be okay but it is not wrapped up with a neat little bow. Much more realistic and powerful written this way.From the advanced reader copy.
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  • Tory
    January 1, 1970
    This never really clicked for me. I was thrown off by the choppy writing style and -- yup, I'm a severely white girl -- some of the slang was completely foreign to me, which made it hard to understand sometimes (or it just sounded stupid, like "I peeped her watching me." Why is that a thing people say?). Personal preference: I also really hated the way "woulda" was written "would'a".(Spoiler) I anticipated that the Legos would be stolen, but the resolution with the toy store owner didn't seem to This never really clicked for me. I was thrown off by the choppy writing style and -- yup, I'm a severely white girl -- some of the slang was completely foreign to me, which made it hard to understand sometimes (or it just sounded stupid, like "I peeped her watching me." Why is that a thing people say?). Personal preference: I also really hated the way "woulda" was written "would'a".(Spoiler) I anticipated that the Legos would be stolen, but the resolution with the toy store owner didn't seem to fit the crime at all. "Oh, you've given my store a huge publicity boost because you, an underprivileged child from the projects, created a huge masterpiece of Lego work -- so f*** you, you're done here, I won't press charges but god forbid we let you get away with this scot-free even though YOU actually had nothing to do with it." Way to squander your good press, man.
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  • Julie Kirchner
    January 1, 1970
    I picked up an ARC of this book at a conference and I am so glad I did. Wallace, called Lolly or Lol by his friends, is a young man growing up in the projects of New York. He has recently lost his brother to gang violence and is carrying guilt over an argument they had prior to his death. He sorts through his hurting heart and the anger that boils in it by creating incredible Lego structures. I loved the secondary characters of Big Rose, Vega and Sunny and how their stories intertwined with Loll I picked up an ARC of this book at a conference and I am so glad I did. Wallace, called Lolly or Lol by his friends, is a young man growing up in the projects of New York. He has recently lost his brother to gang violence and is carrying guilt over an argument they had prior to his death. He sorts through his hurting heart and the anger that boils in it by creating incredible Lego structures. I loved the secondary characters of Big Rose, Vega and Sunny and how their stories intertwined with Lolly's. Fantastic upper middle grade novel with a powerful message about how our choices can determine our fate.
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  • Sharon
    January 1, 1970
    Wow - another amazing read. I was handed an ARC of this, read the back cover and immediately thought, "I have to read this book." I pulled for "Lolly" the entire way through this book - what a wonderfully drawn character. There was so much atmosphere within the pages - I felt like I was walking with him, building with him, listening to "Vega" playing the violin with him. I believe this novel will inspire many young people to make right and inspired choices - to transcend beyond the daily.
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  • Marisa
    January 1, 1970
    I liked this book. It was definitely for a middle grade audience (versus a high school only audience due to language). Lolly is 12, grieving his older brother's gang related death. Unable to process his feelings until one Christmas gift of garbage bags of legos opens up his imagination, a way to heal, and creates possibilities unseen before. This is a vague review, no spoilers. But had characters that felt real and a good story keeping you up late to read.
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  • Kristen Mcgrath
    January 1, 1970
    Lolly's journey and growth through grief and the danger of the Harlem projects was riveting. My daughter (9) picked it up and wouldn't put it down. She is fascinated and these are important perspectives about our society that are foreign to our world. We both loved it. Thank you for opening our eyes and sharing Lolly's story.
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  • Carli
    January 1, 1970
    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 for this realistic look at loss, healing, and hope. Lolly, a teenager growing up in the housing projects of Harlem, is feeling from his older brother’s death just months ago. With pressure to join a “crew” mounting, he must decide which path he wants to take. A surprising gift gives him a chance to heal in a way he never thought possible. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 for this realistic look at loss, healing, and hope. Lolly, a teenager growing up in the housing projects of Harlem, is feeling from his older brother’s death just months ago. With pressure to join a “crew” mounting, he must decide which path he wants to take. A surprising gift gives him a chance to heal in a way he never thought possible.
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  • Merlin Hanson
    January 1, 1970
    Courtesy of the Ivy Bookshop David Barclay Moore spoke at my school. I of course read his book beforehand and was enthralled with how seamlessly he wove a story of youth, life in the projects, pressures of gangs; and how he brought about discovery and change through something such as a boy's love of Lego. The story never seemed contrived and Mr. Moore is as genuine in person as his book.
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