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The stars beneath our feet
2017
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Unable to celebrate the holidays in the wake of his older brother's death in a gang-related shooting, 12-year-old Lolly Rachpaul struggles to avoid being forced into a gang himself while constructing a fantastically creative LEGO city at the Harlem community center. Simultaneous eBook. - (Baker & Taylor)

"The right story at the right time. . . . It&;s not just a narrative; it&;s an experience. It&;s the novel we&;ve been waiting for." &;The New York Times

A boy tries to steer a safe path through the projects in Harlem in the wake of his brother&;s death in this outstanding debut novel that celebrates community and creativity. Winner of the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for New Talent and soon to be a major motion picture directed by Michael B. Jordan!

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.

A New York Times Notable Book
A Time Magazine Top 10 Children's Books of the Year
A Boston Globe Best Children's Book of the Year
Six Starred Reviews


&;A fast and furious read in which we meet some amazing people, people that stay with us. David Barclay Moore is an exciting new voice. We definitely haven&;t heard the last of his brilliance.&; &;Jacqueline Woodson, Newbery Honor and National Book Award&;winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming

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

Author Biography

DAVID BARCLAY MOORE was born and raised in Missouri. After studying creative writing at Iowa State University, film at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and language studies at l&;Université de Montpellier in France, David moved to New York City, where he has served as communications coordinator for Geoffrey Canada&;s Harlem Children&;s Zone and communications manager for Quality Services for the Autism Community. He has received grants from the Ford Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, Yaddo, and the Wellspring Foundation. He was also a semi-finalist for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. David now lives, works, and explores in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow him online at DavidBarclayMoore.com, on Twitter at @dbarclaymoore, and on Instagram at dbarclaymoore. - (Random House, Inc.)

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Booklist Reviews

Realistic problems and vivid depictions of family and city life make this middle-grade debut stand out. Twelve-year-old Wallace "Lolly" Rachpaul lives in the St. Nick projects at 127th street in Harlem, New York. Wallace copes with the death of his older brother, Jermaine, due to "crew" violence, by making masterpieces with the LEGOs his mom's girlfriend, Yvonne, brings him. He likes hanging out with his best friend Vega, and when he makes his own world with LEGOs and creates a game around it after school with a new friend Rose, things seem to be looking up. But when crew members interested in recruiting Wallace start following him around, and his friend Vega thinks about joining, Wallace must confront his grief and the events that led up to his brother's death. A Sundance Screenwriters Lab finalist, Moore imbues his first novel with a strong voice and includes a diverse cast. Fans of Jason Reynolds' When I Was the Greatest (2014) will enjoy this moving and poignant novel. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

Twelve-year-old Lolly's father has left, his older brother was shot and killed, and he's being threatened by the East Side crew. His world turned upside down, Lolly builds another world from LEGOs at the community center, where new friends support him. Debut author Moore's affection for these characters and the Harlem setting is palpable, and Lolly's first-person point of view conveys his inner turmoil. Copyright 2018 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Twelve-year-old Lolly Rachpaul loves his Harlem neighborhood, that "big glowing crossword puzzle" bisected by 125th Street. ("If Harlem was a human body, then 125th would be its pumping heart, throbbing all the time.") But Lolly's life isn't going well. His father has left, he's being threatened by Harp and Gully of the East Side crew, and his older brother Jermaine is dead--he became a "street pharmacist" and was shot and killed. What do you do when your world turns upside down? Lolly builds another world, a LEGO world, constantly growing and evolving. And when it overtakes the apartment in the St. Nicholas Houses he shares with his mother and her girlfriend Yvonne, he builds it during afterschool at the community center instead. There he slowly befriends Big Rose, an outcast, and is supported by program director Mr. Ali, who talks to him about Jermaine. Debut author Moore's affection for his characters and his Harlem setting is palpable, and Lolly's first-person point of view conveys his inner turmoil, especially effective when he and his friend Vega decide to take matters (and a gun) into their own hands to stop Harp and Gully's harassment. The moral decision they must make is akin to Will's in Jason Reynolds's Long Way Down (rev. 7/17). Though the conclusion is didactic, repeating a lesson more neatly embedded in the narrative twenty pages earlier, the novel will be powerful and memorable for a wide audience. dean Schneider Copyright 2017 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

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

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Wallace "Lolly" Rachpaul, 12, is still reeling from the murder of his older brother, Jermaine. The only thing that makes him feel better is building with Legos, and after his mother's girlfriend, Yvonne, gives him two trash bags full of loose Legos for Christmas, he lets his imagination soar. When Lolly's creation outgrows his West Indian family's Harlem apartment, he moves it to the rec center. Encouraged by the facility's director, Mr. Ali, Lolly and Big Rose, a girl with autism, begin to build "the alien metropolis of Harmonee." Outside the safety of the rec center, life for Lolly and his best friend Vega is getting more complicated. Two older boys, Harp and Gully, are hassling them, and their menacing presence escalates into an act of violence. Debut author Moore delivers a realistic and at times brutal portrait of life for young people of color who are living on the edge of poverty. At the same time, Moore infuses the story with hope and aspiration, giving Lolly the chance to find salvation through creativity. Ages 10–up. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Sept.)

Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

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