***The Same Stuff as Stars
by Katherine Paterson
Reviewed October 29, 2002.
Clarion Books, New York, 2002. 242 pages.
Katherine Paterson is a wonderful writer. Some of my favorites
of her work are Lyddie, Jacob Have I Loved
, and Bridge
The Same Stuff as Stars
tells the story of Angel and her little
brother Bernie. Her father is in jail, and they go visit him every
week. At the beginning of the book, Angel’s mother, Verna, loses
patience and drops them off at their great-grandmother’s house.
When Verna leaves in the night, Angel, always the responsible one, now
must care for both her little brother and her great-grandmother.
Angel’s only eleven. Fortunately, she gets some help along
the way. A mysterious stranger meets Angel at night and shows her
the wonder of the stars through his telescope. The librarian in
the village helps Angel find books about the stars. The star man
tells her that she’s made of the same elements as the stars. Things
get worse for Angel before they get better, but the overall message of
this book is one of hope.
This book reminds me of Don’t
You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphry,
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
and A Door Near Here,
by Heather Quarles. In all of
them, we have a girl taking the responsibility for younger siblings when
she is far too young. Angel is much younger than the girls in the
other books, and her situation isn’t quite as dark. However, for
me the book is woven through with sadness. It’s all too easy to imagine
real kids in Angel’s situation who don’t get the lifelines that she is
given. Still, Katherine Paterson has once again crafted a beautiful
novel. I hope that some of those kids out there who feel they are
in Angel’s situation will get to read it.
A reader rating from April: She gave this book one star, with the comment:
This was a great book with a great story. I do not believe this book
should be available in an Elementary school library due to inappropriate
Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund. All
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