The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Noshing on books, bites & black culture in David Barclay Moore’s “The Stars Beneath Our Feet”

Rachael Conlin Levy

Voracious readers and eaters.


My youngest son Ivan reads the newest book chosen by the club.

Weekly I’ve walked to my neighborhood school to join 10- and 11-year-old kids hungry for lunch and literature. Their book club, hatched three years ago by a parent who wanted to share her love of reading with others, has developed into a place where adults and children challenge each other to read deeply, think critically, and share their reactions.

Over the school year, we’ve unpacked prejudice and examined ignorance in “Beyond the Bright Sea.” We’ve talked frankly about today’s nuanced use of the N-word in “The Stars Beneath Our Feet.” We’ve identified horror tropes and peeled away the layers of meaning in “Small Spaces,” and reveled in the rich, musical language of “Wee Free Men.”


The book and …

… its author, filmmaker David Barclay Moore.

David Barclay Moore’s novel about Lolly, a boy trying to steer a safe path through Harlem in the wake of his brother’s death, was this year’s most discussed book within the club. Moore’s exploration of black male culture, and the inspiration he found in Mark Twain’s use of vernacular in “Huckleberry Finn,” paved the way for “The Stars Beneath Our Feet.”

“I consider myself a storyteller, working through words and the moving image,” Moore wrote on his website. “I’ve been daydreaming stories for as long as I can remember. The primary focus of my work rests within Black Men: Their Mystery & Mythology. All of my work, written or otherwise, tends to be deeply rooted in the visual.”

Here are three mini-reviews from the club:

"This is a good book if you like Legos. But it dose have violense."

“This is a good book if you like Legos. But it dose have violense.”


“It made me feel …”



“Lolly’s world gets crazier and crazier, the older he gets. While outside dangers threaten his life, the only way for Lolly to show true emotion is by building Legos.”

I’m grateful for the imaginative power and political courage of Moore and the other authors. I’m inspired by the kids’ willingness to spend their lunch break talking about why stories are important, proud that the club has proven itself worthy of financial backing, and excited to see the club serve as a model for a second school.


A literal commitment.

The year’s reading list:


2 responses to “Noshing on books, bites & black culture in David Barclay Moore’s “The Stars Beneath Our Feet””

  1. Andrea Lani says:

    Wow, that’s pretty amazing, not only to get kids to read books and talk about them during their lunch, but to read difficult books (in terms of difficult things to talk about). Congratulations!

  2. Thanks, Andrea. Learning to navigate discussions on race, sexuality, and prejudice with a group of kids was scary and intimidating, but their responses were thoughtful and honest, and filled me with hope for this young generation.

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