having the character of, or characteristic of, a betrayer
traitorous leaves, Stella could hear a pair of bullfrogs ba-rupping to each other, but nothing, not a single human voice, from across the pond.
burn to charcoal
She could, however, smell the
charring pine, tinged with...what?
strong and sharp, as a taste or smell
She sniffed deeper—it was
acrid, harsh. Kerosene.
the characteristic sounds made by a horse
whinnied in the distance—it sounded nervous.
in a blunt direct manner
“Are you sure they didn’t see you?” Papa asked again
brusquely, rubbing a hand over his unshaven chin.
marked by quiet and caution and secrecy
She’d been younger than Jojo at the time, but Stella remembered the
furtive whispers and the tracings of fear on the grown-ups around her when it had happened.
harshly uninviting or formidable in manner or appearance
As if he had read her mind, Papa nodded
warn strongly; put on guard
“And be careful!” Mama
admonished. “Swift and silent, you hear me? Take the dog.”
muscular and heavily built
They ran to the Winston house first, pounding on their front door. A few minutes later, Johnsteve, a
burly, brown-skinned boy, opened it cautiously.
react in an offended or angry manner
And in less than half an hour, Stella’s front room was filled with the
bristling anger of the black men of Bumblebee.
floor consisting of open space at the top of a house
Jojo, very much against his will, had been sent to sleep in his parents' bed in the upstairs
a fragment of incombustible matter left after a fire
“Sometimes, at night, I go and run at the track of the white school.” As Stella gaped, he hurried on. “It’s honest-to-goodness
cinder, you know? It’s so much better than running on our lumpy dirt road. On that white school track, I feel like an eagle or something.”
put forward, of a guess, in spite of possible refutation
“Yeah, but your daddy got out,” Stella
ventured. “He went to college and now he’s a doctor.”
a medicine that strengthens and invigorates
Because he was the only Negro doctor for two hundred miles, Tony’s father delivered babies, gave
tonics and cough medicine for head colds, and patched up scratches, cuts, and burns.
an advanced student or graduate in medicine
“Yeah, he did. But he’s told me more than enough stories about how bad he was treated while he was getting his training. They made him empty the bedpans and clean up the blood on the floor after a surgery. None of the other
interns had to do that. They gave him broken equipment and outdated books, and only let him treat colored folk.”
a small amount of solid food; a mouthful
Actually, she thought they were pretty rude, pushing one another out of the way to grab the best
not restrained or controlled
She thought about the masthead of that paper. Its motto was “The Truth
Unbridled.” Stella liked that. Truth. On horseback. Without a saddle or bridle to hold the animal back.
in a manner suggesting something bad will happen
He gave the page he was holding a shake and added
ominously, “Or worse.”
with intention; in an intentional manner
“It’s chilly out there, Jonah,” she said,
deliberately changing the subject, Stella thought.
in a serious and dignified manner
Stella and Jojo nodded
solemnly and headed out into the nippy, sparkling morning.
reflect deeply on a subject
“Maybe a bear,” Johnsteve
mused. “But if I caught one, what would you do with it?”
ambled out of the next house they reached—a small, gray shack, the one on the road most in need of repair.
moving with or producing or produced by vigorous agitation
Then he took off in a blaze of speed, his bare feet
churning on the dirt.
quieted and brought under control
While Randy and Johnsteve and Tony continued to push one another back and forth, the others seemed more
subdued, the youngest ones looking downright nervous.
go, come, or spread in a rambling or irregular way
Helen, Henrietta, Herbert, Hugh, and Hazel—just five of the thirteen Spencer children—
straggled out of the last house on the road, the biggest house in all of Bumblebee.
a feeling of deep and bitter anger and ill-will
Stella pulled her jacket closer, buttoning up her
The potbellied stove was already
stoked with logs the older students chopped each afternoon.
a narrative song with a recurrent refrain
Stella slipped into her own seat, next to the upright piano that Mrs. Grayson plinked out hymns and folk songs and
an elaborate exhibition or procession
Mrs. Grayson looked Jojo in the eye. “Let’s just not take any chances. Is that clear? Now, for something far more jolly, how about we start the day by practicing for the Christmas
a feeling of evil to come
While her classmates began murmuring happily, Stella couldn’t shake a sudden feeling of
as if struck dumb with astonishment and surprise
“So...how did they end up in my piano?” The teacher looked
in a friendly manner
“Sure, Hugh,” Claudia said
old and twisted and covered in lines
Outside the classroom window stood an ancient apple tree, its branches
gnarled and entwined.
of a red color at the end of the color spectrum
A breeze blew a few curled and
ruddy leaves from the apple tree.
a stupid person
Dunce! She ripped the page out of her notebook, balled it up, and put her head down on her desk.
destroy or injure severely
She felt jumpy—anxious for the night, hopeful that no fiery disturbances would
mar the darkness this time, and worried that her mother would find out she’d gotten in trouble at school.
a hot, smoldering fragment of wood left from a fire
The blaze in the fireplace had died down to
embers, only whispers and ashen shadows remaining of the roaring fire of a few hours ago.
spread by scattering
The night sky was an inky blue-black blanket
strewn with thousands of crystal-bright stars.
be driven or carried along, as by the air
She lifted the lid, the scent of tobacco
wafting out, and sifted through the items inside—dozens of yellowing and curled newspaper articles she’d torn from Papa’s discarded newspapers, from news stories not pasted on the wall.
check and sort carefully
She lifted the lid, the scent of tobacco wafting out, and
sifted through the items inside—dozens of yellowing and curled newspaper articles she’d torn from Papa’s discarded newspapers, from news stories not pasted on the wall.