Chapters 1–10

In this historical novel, a young girl confronts prejudice and injustice in her segregated North Carolina town.

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Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. traitorous
    having the character of, or characteristic of, a betrayer
    Besides the 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.
  2. char
    burn to charcoal
    She could, however, smell the charring pine, tinged with...what?
  3. acrid
    strong and sharp, as a taste or smell
    She sniffed deeper—it was acrid, harsh. Kerosene.
  4. whinny
    the characteristic sounds made by a horse
    A horse whinnied in the distance—it sounded nervous.
  5. brusquely
    in a blunt direct manner
    “Are you sure they didn’t see you?” Papa asked again brusquely, rubbing a hand over his unshaven chin.
  6. furtive
    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.
  7. grim
    harshly uninviting or formidable in manner or appearance
    As if he had read her mind, Papa nodded grimly.
  8. admonish
    warn strongly; put on guard
    “And be careful!” Mama admonished. “Swift and silent, you hear me? Take the dog.”
  9. burly
    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.
  10. bristle
    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.
  11. loft
    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 loft.
  12. cinder
    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.”
  13. venture
    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.”
  14. tonic
    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.
  15. intern
    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.”
  16. morsel
    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 morsels.
  17. unbridled
    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.
  18. ominously
    in a manner suggesting something bad will happen
    He gave the page he was holding a shake and added ominously, “Or worse.”
  19. deliberately
    with intention; in an intentional manner
    “It’s chilly out there, Jonah,” she said, deliberately changing the subject, Stella thought.
  20. solemnly
    in a serious and dignified manner
    Stella and Jojo nodded solemnly and headed out into the nippy, sparkling morning.
  21. muse
    reflect deeply on a subject
    “Maybe a bear,” Johnsteve mused. “But if I caught one, what would you do with it?”
  22. amble
    walk leisurely
    Randy Bates ambled out of the next house they reached—a small, gray shack, the one on the road most in need of repair.
  23. churning
    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.
  24. subdued
    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.
  25. straggle
    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.
  26. resentment
    a feeling of deep and bitter anger and ill-will
    Stella pulled her jacket closer, buttoning up her resentment.
  27. stoke
    stir up
    The potbellied stove was already stoked with logs the older students chopped each afternoon.
  28. ballad
    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 ballads on.
  29. pageant
    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 pageant!”
  30. foreboding
    a feeling of evil to come
    While her classmates began murmuring happily, Stella couldn’t shake a sudden feeling of foreboding.
  31. flabbergasted
    as if struck dumb with astonishment and surprise
    “So...how did they end up in my piano?” The teacher looked flabbergasted.
  32. amiably
    in a friendly manner
    “Sure, Hugh,” Claudia said amiably.
  33. gnarled
    old and twisted and covered in lines
    Outside the classroom window stood an ancient apple tree, its branches gnarled and entwined.
  34. ruddy
    of a red color at the end of the color spectrum
    A breeze blew a few curled and ruddy leaves from the apple tree.
  35. dunce
    a stupid person
    Dunce! She ripped the page out of her notebook, balled it up, and put her head down on her desk.
  36. mar
    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.
  37. ember
    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.
  38. strew
    spread by scattering
    The night sky was an inky blue-black blanket strewn with thousands of crystal-bright stars.
  39. waft
    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.
  40. sift
    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.
Created on December 15, 2017 (updated April 4, 2019)

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