Book: Stars in the Darkness

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Stars in the Darkness

Author: Barbara M. Joosse, R. Gregory Christie
Publisher: Chronicle Books

In the imagination of a young inner-city boy, police sirens sound like howling wolves, streetlights look like stars, and shots fired by neighborhood gangs sound like those stars cracking the darkness. But when his older brother joins a gang, he can no longer pretend.

With the help of his mother, he comes up with a plan to save his brother and unite his neighbors in a stand for peace. The realistic yet uplifting words of best-selling author Barbara M. Joosse combine with powerful illustrations by award-winning artist R. Gregory Christie in this hope-filled story. One young boy’s courage can make a difference.

A small boy joins with his mother to find a creative way to save his older brother from the dangers of gang violence. Includes a list of organizations and websites dealing with gang prevention.


In the haunting yet buoyant picture book by bestselling, award-winning author Barbara M. Joosse and award-winning illustrator R. Gregory Christie, a young boy tells of his brother Richard’s entrance into the world of “gang bangers.” Richard has always made his little brother feel safe and loved, until he starts “walkin’ that walk, like he’s King Stuff.” The boy watches warily: “Richard thinks I’m a little kid, but I’m not as little as he thinks. I know what I know.” Finally, the boy and his mother take action, galvanizing the neighborhood to walk the streets at night, advocating peace.

Christie’s striking paintings of the family and neighborhood are strong, eye-catching companions to Joosse’s powerful story. Readers will feel great hope for the protagonist, as, even in a dark hour of his young life, he sees the flashlights carried by his neighbors as “stars crackin’ the darkness,” an image repeated from the beginning. Joosse’s message is aimed directly at “the little sisters and brothers…the stars in the darkness.” An author’s note and list of gang prevention resources are included, making this more than just an urban storybook—it can serve as a real resource for children at risk for joining a gang. (Ages 5 to 9) —Emilie Coulter

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