It’s 1918 and Stella has lost her suffragette mother to the terrible flu pandemic that is sweeping Europe. The Great War is finally coming to a close, and women are going to be able to vote for the first time.
Stella wants to change the world – but she can’t do it all by herself. Just as stars come one by one to brighten the night sky, so history is made person by person, girl by girl, vote by vote.
A bold tale of suffragettes and heroes, courage and survival
PRAISE FOR STAR BY STAR
‘Stella is a deeply feminist heroine – confident, outspoken and kind. This is a book to educate both historically and emotionally. It has the assured tone of a classic, and is so good on what history, and neglected women’s history, has to teach us.’ – Deirdre Sullivan, author of Tangleweed and Brine
‘This is a well-constructed, taut novel and you are drawn in immediately… The message underpinning the novel that individuals can do something to bring about change is powerful and life-affirming. A heart-warming gem of a book.’ – Jane Churchill, Books for Keeps Magazine, five star review
‘Both true to her time and timeless, Stella (and this book) are absolutely bang on the zeitgeist in this centenary year of celebrating women’s suffrage in a world where we are still fighting for change, girl by girl, woman by woman, star by star.’ – Myra Zepf, Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland at QUB Seamus Heaney Centre
‘I read this book in one heady gulp, captivated by its teenager narrator, Stella and her longing to be someone and do something important, something young teens will deeply relate to.’ – The Irish Independent from their list of best children’s books of 2017
‘Stella is Wilkinson’s most endearing heroine yet, and her narrative offers up an insightful look into the losses and traumas of the era, with pitch-perfect period details woven throughout.’ – The Irish Times
‘Another stormer from this hugely-gifted novelist’ – Damian Smyth, Head of Literature, The Arts Council of Northern Ireland
‘The novel gives a fascinating, sensitive, intelligent, even-handed insight into the historical period and the complexities facing many young women and families during the turbulent years directly after the War. However, it also covers many universal themes that every teenager can relate to today whether they have an understanding of war, politics and Northern Ireland’s history or not. So many of the book’s concerns, though particular to 1918, seem terribly applicable to 2017 and I was particularly struck by how contemporary this novel feels, which is surely a testament to Wilkinson’s skills as a writer.’ – The Bookbag
‘Stella’s a determined, but vulnerable, character who we immediately care for. She observes her time and place and self with insight and humour… Every secondary school library should have a copy of this book to help the next generation value the say they will come to have in how their country is run. And because its a very good story, well told.’ – Pippa Goodhart, Awfully Big Blog Adventure
‘What is probably the most resonant message in this book is that we all have the capacity, little by little, to make positive changes for the better. And, at a time when the world can seem frighteningly disorientated and where the mistakes of the past loom like shadows in the dark, it is a message we all need to heed. It is in moments like these – when the rights of women and so many groups, are surreptitiously being threatened in democratic countries of the first world – that Sheena Wilkinson’s novel is an important testament to the need for us all to recognise the hard-fought victories of the past which have helped shape a fairer present. But as Stella is only too aware, there is always more to be done.’ – Armadillo Magazine
‘An intelligent, informative, lively read’ – Children’s Books Ireland Reading Guide
‘A brilliant and bold novel that, though not long, has quite an impact. Wilkinson gives a succinct and true portrait of the time. There is drama and struggle, but there is also humour and joy. Her characterisation is spot on; the reader feels their dilemmas, friendships and thoughts as surely as if they themselves are part of the story. Stella is strong, stubborn, very intelligent (though sometimes her actions are a bit rash) and extremely likeable. The reader will become part of her inner struggles to change the world and to find out who she is; where she comes from … recovering her own history while she tackles the world from a small seaside town. The portraits of the soldiers, home from the War and greatly damaged by it, are haunting, adding a question to that particular cause that remains unspoken and unanswered. The strong female characters stand out and create the canvas upon which the action and emotion is played out. But for me, while this is definitely a suffragette story, the strongest part of the story was the flu pandemic; how the characters are affected by a plague they seem hopeless against; the loss and the victory over it, all the while preparing for an election day that will transform Ireland forever. An amazing book that will last long after it’s been read and open up many doors of interest to its readers.’ – Fallen Star Stories
‘Marvellous… Another triumph from one of the best YA authors around!’ – Emma Pass, award-winning YA author of ACID & The Fearless
‘Star by Star is a beautifully-written tale of resilience and hope. It has a real optimistic message, reinforcing the notion that one person can make a difference. It’s also certainly a tale for our own times, with plenty to be gained from following the example of Stella.’ – Derek Carney
‘This is a beautifully written and fascinating story, which shines a light on an important part of history that may be unknown to many teenagers.’ – Booktrust
‘It’s 1918, the Great War is coming to an agonising close, women are on the verge of being able to vote, and the determined and vulnerable Stella resolves to change the world. This assured and bold tale of heroism, courage, and survival skilfully draws the modern reader into its vividly rendered early-twentieth-century setting. Sheena Wilkinson offers an inspiring, humorous and insightful proclamation of each individual’s potential to enact change and create a more just society, vote by vote and star by star.’ – Judges at the Children’s Books Ireland Awards
‘I really enjoyed this book. Stella is a hugely engaging character, even though her conviction that she knows what is best for everyone leads her into some terrible scrapes and embarrassing situations. But she is only 15 and she is learning: the book’s conclusion is hopeful in that we are sure she will make a difference to the world someday, as well as finding personal happiness with a family she didn’t know she had.’ – Glasgow Women’s Library
Chosen as one of the top books about Women’s Suffrage by the BBC – check out the list here
Cover illustration and design by Niall McCormack
Sheena Wilkinson writes contemporary realistic fiction for children and young adults. Since the publication of her first novel, the multi-award-winning Taking Flight, she has been established as one of Ireland\'s most acclaimed writers for children and teenagers.Taking Flight (2010) won the CBI Honour Award for Fiction as well as the Children’s Choice Award. It was named as a White Raven by the International Youth Library and got a place on the IBBY Honour List. Its sequel, Grounded (2012) also won the CBI Children’s Choice award as well as the overall Book of the Year. Too Many Ponies, for readers 9+, was also shortlisted for the CBI awards, making that three out of three. Sheena\'s latest YA title, Still Falling, was published in 2015, as was Name upon Name, a historical novel for older children.In 2013-14 she was the first CBI Bringing to Book Writer in Residence at the Church of Ireland College of Education in Rathmines. She is a professional mentor for NUI Galway, and tutors for the Arvon Foundation. Sheena lives in County Down, and travels extensively in Ireland and beyond, talking about books and writing.