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Same Stuff as Stars, The Paperback – April 13, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Few authors explore the theme of what defines a family with more compassion and sensitivity than Paterson (The Great Gilly Hopkins; Flip-Flop Girl), as she demonstrates once again in this contemporary novel set in rural Vermont. Eleven-year-old Angel Morgan, despite her youth, is the head of her family. With a father in jail for robbery and murder, and Verna, her mother, too preoccupied with herself to care for anyone else (she once "forgot" her children in an all-night diner), Angel looks out for her seven-year-old brother. She keeps a house key around her neck and taxi money in her sock, "just in case." Before long, Verna proves Angel's fears well founded, when she drops the children off at their great-grandmother's house and leaves in the night. Paterson enters Angel's consciousness through a third-person narrative, revealing, for example, how the girl rationalizes Verna's erratic behavior ("How could anyone expect her to know about being a good mother? She couldn't remember having a mother of her own") as well as the way Grandma's (as they call her) ramshackle house transforms into a welcoming haven with a nearby library and a pasture with a view of the night sky. At the novel's center is Angel's blossoming friendship with a mysterious "star man" whom Grandma calls "Santy Claus." He leaves food and chopped wood at the door, and introduces the heroine to galaxies beyond their own. Angel's intelligence and abiding trust in the direst of situations will convince readers that, despite the unresolved ending, she will rise above her circumstances. Ages 10-13.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-Paterson has once again crafted a beautifully written, wonderfully told story that exposes some of the most disturbing parts of our society while at the same time teaching the value of each and every person. She returns to rural Vermont in this tale of Angel who, in her nearly 12 years, has attended eight schools and twice been in foster care. She is more a parent to her seven-year-old brother, Bernie, than their frequently drunk and unreliable mother or their father, whom they visit weekly in jail. Their mother abandons Angel and Bernie at the ramshackle farmhouse of their great-grandmother, who is too aged and poor to care for children, and when she returns for just Bernie, Angel's loneliness is as immense as the night skies that a kind stranger teaches her about. The man turns out to be her Uncle Ray, a Vietnam vet whose life has been damaged by drugs and jail time, yet who convinces her that she is made of the same elements as the stars. The enchanted night sky gives Angel perspective on her life; it becomes a metaphor on many levels in the novel. As always, Paterson conveys great respect for the poor, and for preadolescents in tragic circumstances who have the resiliency to transform themselves. A new novel by Katherine Paterson is cause for great celebration and this one more than measures up. Angel Morgan will take her place in readers' hearts right next to Lyddie, Gilly, Lupe, and Jip.
Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperColl; Reprint edition (April 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060557125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060557126
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #597,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Katherine Paterson has twice won both the Newbery Medal and the National Book Award. She received the 1998 Hans Christian Andersen Medal as well as the 2006 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for the body of her work. An active promoter of reading and literacy, she lives with her husband, John, in Barre, Vermont. They have four children and seven grandchildren. Visit Katherine Paterson on her web site at www.terabithia.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Without a doubt, my two favorite writers for young adults are Madeleine L'Engle and Katherine Paterson. Ms. Paterson has written a number of novels (Bridge to Terabithia, Jacob Have I Loved, Lyddie, etc.) that are among the best I've every read. This novel may not reach the heights of some of her previous books but it is still a worthwhile read.
I have probably shed more tears over Katherine Paterson novels than any other writer except, perhaps, Dickens. They both have an incredible ability to create realistic characters that you can really feel for as well as a deep perception for the effect that death and abandonment can have on people. As I began reading The Same Stuff As Stars I didn't think this novel would have the same effect but I must admit that it did. In the character of Angel, continually abandoned by everyone around her but still a strong girl, Paterson has done it again.
It is her ability to create these realistic characters, however, that also turned me off to this book. I found the characters of Verna and, in particular, Bernie to be so unpleasant that the first half of this novel was nearly unreadable for me. Once these two characters disappear from the novel, I liked the book to be much better.
But is it really fair to dislike a book because the characters are created too well? It's a personal assessment but a fair one, I think. But this book still has many things to recommend it, not the least of which is the astronomy motif which appeals to me very much as a math and physics teacher. Another personal assessment, perhaps, but it works both ways. Ultimately, this is a book that still rates better than just about anything out there. I would highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed Katherine Paterson's book Same Stuff as Stars because it is an excellent example of realistic fiction. The themes that are present in this book are common to many children in today's society. Imagine being motherless and fatherless and having to rely mainly on yourself for support. Angel is eleven years old in this story and is trying to take care of her younger brother. She is desperate for a real home, unlike her current situation of living with her poor-grandmother. A stranger who is able to explain the night skies is truly all she has to make a difference in her life. Will this stranger's wisdom be enough to eliminate her loneliness and overcome her tragic circumstances she faces each day?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a copy/paste from my Goodreads review.
It's The Great Gilly Hopkins but on a darker level. I recommended The Same Stuff as Stars once to an elementary school girl but she later told me she couldn't finish it because it was too sad. Now that I've had the chance to review it again, I have to agree with her. This is a depressing story where the main character faces trials of poverty and neglect that would leave any normal child scarred for life. Just when you think it might be getting better, it keeps getting worse.
Only Katherine Paterson can tackle such realism by weaving in the faith she was raised on yet not come across in her writing as preachy. The writing is her usual high quality storytelling with strong setting, plot and characters. The story does drag in some places but her usual style shines as bright as the stars we get the opportunity to learn about.
The only issues I have with the book is #1-killing off my favorite character. Those who've read the book know which one I'm talking about. #2-how did this family living in poverty manage all those hospital bills at the end without Obamacare?
If this is your first Katherine Paterson book I recommend reading some of her other award winning books first because there's a reason this story didn't win any.
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A Kid's Review on November 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
WoW!It was another day in the classroom when my teacher called us on the rug. He bought a few books and wanted to read the beginings. One of these books was this one. the begining was wonderful!. Little did i know, i was about to go on an adventure, a big exiting one in the City and the country. He gave me the book to read. This book is the most passionate book i have ever read. I was in tears it was so good! I will now look for more Kathrine Paterson books on Amazon.com!Amazon.com is the best!
~Stephanie, age 11
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A Kid's Review on December 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
I belive that this book was very well written. You know it's a good book when you laugh and then you cry. This book has a VERY good ending if you want to write a sequal. (Is there one already?) I think that is was exciting.

I felt as though I was with angel or even that i WAS angel. It was a book i will remember for years to come. When she laughed i laughed and when she cried i cried.
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Format: Paperback
I thought this story was a very powerful story about Angel and her little brother, Bernie who goes through hard times. It's touching and shows how some kids have to live. It showed me how hard Angel and Bernie had it, Their Dad in Jail and their mother who was negligent. Does have some bad language, but I highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
From the famed author of Bridge to Terabithia comes this heartbreakingly realistic tale of two siblings trapped in a nightmare of neglect. Angel and her little brother Bernie live with their mom, a high school dropout, in a ratty apartment. Their dad is in jail, and the two have been visiting him weekly for years. Their mother Vera has zero maternal instincts, frequently screaming at both of them, or worse, running off and leaving them when she becomes overwhelmed. One fateful day Vera hurriedly orders them to pack one suitcase each, and they set out in her aged truck to find the home of their paternal great-grandmother.

Vera quickly abandons the two to the old woman, who is poor and has health problems. Her run-down home lacks a TV or modern appliances, and the only food in the house is canned peaches and pork and beans, hardly the balanced nutrition that growing children (or the elderly) need. Angel frantically calls her father in jail, telling him that Vera has abandoned them, but he's in no position to help. Angel's existence is nearly unbearable as she is forced to be a mother for two (Bernie and her great-grandmother), responsible for the shopping, laundry, and cooking. Her only bright moments come at night, where she loses herself to the majesty of the stars and a mysterious stranger with a telescope who shares her celestial fascination.

What's truly heartbreaking is the myriad of excuses that Angel makes for her neglectful mother: Vera didn't *mean* to leave the two children at an all-night diner. She didn't *mean* to scream at Bernie and nearly leave him behind twice on the way to their new home.
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