I am incredibly excited to be holding the proof copy of And the Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando. Just look at this gorgeous thing! Then go and pre-order it from your bookseller of choice!
And the Stars Were Burning Brightly was written during the Megaphone scheme, so it is an amazing and really special experience to be reading it again two years on and seeing how it has developed during the editorial process. I was not surprised to see that it was the most requested proof on NetGalley, nor to hear that Melvin Burgess has called it ‘an utter page turner from a storming new talent’.
Stars’ subject matter remains – and will remain – extremely important. No teenager or parent in Britain today will be unaware of the potential for social media to get out of hand. Danielle has personal experience of this, which she draws on for this wise, moving YA novel. But the novel is so much more than a documentary. My heart ached for Nathan, on a quest for the truth behind his brother’s death. Beautiful meditations on art and space science mingle with a gritty story of ordinary teenagers trying to find human connections and freedom in a world that wants to dehumanise them.
And The Stars Were Burning Brightly is an extraordinary book and deserves all the praise it is getting (and it’s getting a lot). Published by Simon and Schuster, it comes out in March 2020 . You can follow it on Twitter on #Burnbright @DanielleJawando @SimonKids_UK.
Since Megaphone, Danielle has also written a life of Maya Angelou for the children’s series: Little Guides to Great Lives. Thanks to series such as these, there is now no excuse for parents and teachers to not introduce children to great people of colour in history. The books are out there – go and buy them!
As the recent Book Trust Represents report showed, writers of colour are still under-represented in children’s literature. In 2017, just 1.98% of children’s book creators were British people of colour. For context, the 2011 census indicated that 19.5% of people in England and Wales were from minority ethnic backgrounds. That is a stark contrast, and it’s the very reason that Megaphone was created. So this copy of And The Stars Were Burning Brightly isn’t just a proof copy. It is wonderful and encouraging evidence that writers can make a difference. Well done Danielle!