WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Eleven-year-old Stella Mills lives in Bumblebee, North Carolina, in 1932. When she and her 8-year-old brother, Jojo, walk by the pond late one evening, they see a terrifying sight. Men in white robes are burning a cross. The kids tell their parents, who assemble black men in the community immediately.

Readers learn about the segregation between the blacks and whites in Bumblebee. The white children attend one school, with better facilities and materials, while the black school receives the white school’s hand-me-downs. The only black doctor is the father of Stella’s friend, Tony Hawkins. The white physician, Dr. Packard, only treats white people. After seeing the Klansmen’s horses, Stella feels certain Dr. Packard is one of them.

As anxieties rise within the black community, the residents welcome a visit from traveling salesmen and storyteller, Spoon Man. Stella’s mama arranges a potluck, and everyone listens to Spoon Man’s story about an eagle that thinks he’s a chicken and doesn’t realize he can fly.

Mama tells Stella she knows the girl has been sneaking out at night. Stella tells Mama about her interest in writing, despite the trouble she has putting her thoughts on paper at school. She says she likes to write under the stars. Stella writes an article about the Klan after her teacher, Mrs. Grayson, urges students to submit work for a newspaper contest.

Pastor Patton gives an impassioned speech one Sunday about standing up for one’s rights. He says he’s going to town to register to vote, and he invites people to join him. Stella’s father and Mr. Spencer decide to go, and Stella’s father lets her come along. The white men in charge of voter registration try to make the process as difficult as possible for the men of color. They give them a test and charge them a high fee. Papa’s group makes it clear they’re not leaving until they are approved to vote. They even sit and sing while waiting. The white men finally approve them to get them to go away.

The Klan continues to appear in town. They burn down Mr. Spencer’s home to punish him for registering to vote. The Spencers have 13 children, and one, named Hazel, goes missing in the chaos. While the black community and a few white neighbors try to put out the fire, Stella looks in the spot she suspects Hazel would hide. She brings Hazel back safely. Everyone calls Stella a hero, and the pastor even lauds her from the pulpit. The grateful Mrs. Spencer gives Stella a typewriter.

On voting day, a large group of people go to town with Papa, the pastor and Mr. Spencer. Stella is disappointed when her article doesn’t win the newspaper contest, but she decides to use her typewriter to create her own newspaper, Stella’s Star Sentinel. Tony and Stella go to town to get medicine for Jojo when he’s sick, and Tony is attacked by two white men. He isn’t badly hurt, but he’s shaken up.

Stella and Jojo look for their mother one day and discover she’s been bitten by a rattlesnake. Tony’s father is out of town, and they desperately need antivenom. Papa sends Stella to plead with Dr. Packard, but he rudely refuses to help a black person. Stella’s family agonizes, until they learn one of the kind white neighbor women with a car has driven to find Dr. Hawkins and bring him back. He gives Mama antivenom in time, but she walks with a limp afterward.

Shortly thereafter, Stella sees someone drowning in the lake and jumps in to save her. When she realizes she has rescued Dr. Packard’s daughter, Paulette, Stella is angry. Paulette tells Stella about the doctor’s abusive behavior toward her and her mother. Paulette hates her father’s Klan activity and says she thinks Stella should tell everyone what Dr. Packard has done.

The story ends with a botched but joyful nativity scene at the Christmas pageant. Stella shares some of her writing about hopes for the future.

Christian Beliefs

Stella and her family are active members of New Hope Church. The cross on their building is crooked because lightning struck it, and Pastor Patton says it is a blessing from heaven. Pastor Patton gives a lot of sermons on Moses because of the parallel between his story and the plight of black Americans. He urges the congregants to exercise their rights by registering to vote, and he tells them he will be doing this himself.

After Stella finds Hazel and brings her to safety, the pastor uses Stella as a sermon illustration for her bravery. Stella prays for her mother after the snake bite and thanks God for the antivenom that keeps Mama alive. The schoolchildren do a nativity play at the Christmas pageant.

Other Belief Systems

None

Authority Roles

Stella’s parents are community-minded, resourceful people who encourage her in her desire to write. Pastor Patton urges the townspeople to stand up for their rights. He practices his preaching by leading a group to voter registration in town. Mrs. Grayson sees Stella’s potential and urges her to write. The white doctor and other white town leaders use spiteful words and violence in their attempts to keep the black community members in a state of fear and inactivity.

Profanity/Violence

The Lord’s name is used in vain a few times. The Ku Klux Klan burns down the Spencer home. Paulette tells Stella that her father frequently hits her and her mother, but the violence is not described in detail. Stella also remembers Dr. Packard slapping her when she was little for accidentally getting mud on his shoes.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

None

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Racism: Many white people believe themselves superior to their black neighbors and treat them with contempt and cruelty.

Pledge of Allegiance: The schoolchildren recite the pledge without “under God.” (“Under God” was not added to the pledge until 1954, so the book is historically correct.)

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

9 to 13

Author

Sharon M. Draper

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, a registered trademark of Simon & Schuster

Released

On Video

Year Published

2015

Awards

ALA Notable Children’s Books, 2016; International Literacy Association Teachers’ Choice, 2016; and others

Reviewer

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!