Clarion Books is honored to announce the September publication of The Same Stuff as Stars, the new middle-grade novel by two-time Newbery medalist Katherine Paterson. Poignant yet uplifting, Paterson's first full-length novel since Preacher's Boy (1999) features the masterly characterizations, keen ear, and penetrating sense of drama that won the author two National Book Awards as well as the Hans Christian Anderson Award for her body of work.
In The Same Stuff as Stars, Paterson has created a unique and unlikely heroine: Angel, an unwanted, neglected latchkey kid of eleven who is forced to care for herself and her difficult younger brother in the absence of responsible adults. Their father is in jail, and their mother, unable to cope, abandons them at their great-grandmother's crumbling Vermont farmhouse and disappears. Such unstable circumstances cause a girl like Angel sensitive, perceptive, with a highly developed sense of responsibility a great deal of anxiety. Yet she finds solace in one person: a mysterious stranger who appears whenever the night sky is clear and teaches her about the stars, planets, and constellations.
Angel, Bernie, and Grandma do eventually find a sense of balance until events conspire against them. It's then that Angel must find the strength within herself to persevere, reminding us once again of the incredible resilience of childhood . . . and the unquenchable human spirit.
Asked for the source of this novel and its characters, Katherine Paterson tells a story almost as moving as the book itself. The author was attending a reading group at a local prison. The participants in the group, male and female, were discussing her novel The Great Gilly Hopkins. Katherine found herself shaken when the facilitator asked the readers how many of them had been foster children themselves and every single one of the twenty-odd people around the table raised a hand.
When the discussion was over, Katherine agreed to sign the prisoners' books. She asked one man for his name, but he said she shouldn't sign his book that way. The book was for his little girl. "Her name is Angel," he said.
In the vein of Katherine Paterson's best-loved novels comes a new work about a spunky, compelling girl who determinedly seeks order in her universe. Her name is Angel.
"The growth of the imagination demands windows windows through which we can look out at the world, and windows through which we can look at ourselves." Katherine Paterson
Katherine Paterson has been providing just such windows since publishing her first novel in 1973. Since winning the Newbery Medal for Bridge to Terabithia in 1978, she has been internationally renowned for her sensitive handling of difficult themes, her finely drawn characters, and her moving, powerful prose.
Her many acclaimed novels include Jacob Have I Loved, which won the Newbery Medal in 1981, and The Great Gilly Hopkins, a Newbery Honor Book. She has twice received the National Book Award for Children's Literature, and in 1998 she was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for the body of her work. In 2000, Paterson was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress.
Katherine Paterson was born in China and traveled extensively with her missionary family throughout her childhood. She has lived in rural Virginia and Japan (among other places), two locations that she has drawn on as settings for her fiction. In addition to a variety of honorary degrees, she holds a master's degree from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia, and received a fellowship to the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where she met her husband.
The Patersons have four children and seven grandchildren. They live in Barre, Vermont.
Praise for The Same Stuff as Stars
"Few authors explore the theme of what defines a family with more compassion and sensitivity than Paterson . . . 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. . . . 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." Publishers Weekly, starred
"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. . . . Angel's loneliness is as immense as the night skies that a kind stranger teaches her about. . . . The enchanted night sky gives Angel perspective on her life; it becomes a metaphor on many levels in the novel. . . . 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." School Library Journal, starred