Monday, January 21, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: What Came From The Stars by Gary D. Schmidt

Date Published: September 4, 2012
ISBN: 0547612133
Genre: MG, fantasy
Themes:Loss, loneliness, art, power, friendship, loyalty

About The Book: The Valorim are about to fall to a dark lord when they send a necklace containing their planet across the cosmos, hurtling past a trillion starsall the way into the lunchbox of Tommy Pepper, sixth grader, of Plymouth, Mass. Mourning his late mother, Tommy doesn't notice much about the chain he found, but soon he is drawing the twin suns and humming the music of a hanorah. As Tommy absorbs the art and language of the Valorim, their enemies target him. When a creature begins ransacking Plymouth in search of the chain, Tommy learns he must protect his family from villains far worse than he's ever imagined.—Goodreads

First Line: "So the Valorim came to know that their last days were upon them."

Great Quote:   "Let the Art be brought back for the good of the world. If it is in the hand of one who would use it for ill, in that world or this, then it will be upon you to destroy it—though its end means your own life exile."

What Others Are Saying: “Schmidt brings high heroic fantasy and contemporary realism together in this novel.”—Horn Book, starred review.

"Not being a sci fi or fantasy writer, Schmidt gives this his own twang…breaking or ignoring pretty much all the rules of sci fi, but still coming up with something that feels intensley real. Completely successful? I’m not sure about that…but certainly worth the ride."—Library School Journal, Nina Lindsay

Other Blogger Reviews:
The Book Smugglers
Waking Up Braincells
Book Nut

My Analysis:
1. POV switches back and forth, from Tommy's to the Valorim's world. 
2. 293 pages/ includes a glossary and The Testament of Young Waeglim.
3. The Hook: The end of Valorim and the chain leaves that universe.
4. Inciting event: Ch. 2 Tommy puts on the heavy, green, silver chain.
5. Plot and Pace: Plot slowed due to the POV changes and difficult language.
6. Voice: Sophisticated, may be difficult for some middle-graders.

What I Thought: In retrospect I believe I should have waited longer after reading Okay For Now. It is such a different piece of work for Schmidt; the world building, the fantasy, and there are those that aren't so sure it was successful. I'm not prepared to make that claim and plan to read this again in another year. There are many things that I loved and my strong desire to see it succeed kept me reading. The overall message that small things can hold great power is repeated throughout the novel. The universal themes of loss and loneliness are powerful and unite the alternating chapters between worlds.    

About The Author: 
Gary D. Schmidt

Who: Gary D. Schmidt is the author of more than fifteen books for children and young adults, including The Wednesday Wars, a 2008 Newbery Honor Award winner, and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, which won a Newbery Honor award and a Michael L. Printz Honor award in 2005. His novel, Trouble, came out in spring 2008, and Okay for Now in 2012—becoming a National Book Award Finalist. In God’s Hands, a picture book co-authored with Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, was a runner-up for the 2005 National Jewish Book Award. His most recent picture book is The Rose in the Desert: The Story of Martin de Porres.
In addition to multiple “Best Book” lists, his work has been given a Horn Book Honor award and a Blue Ribbon award by the Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books. He has also authored or co-authored numerous textbooks, scholarly and academic books (including biographies of Katherine Paterson and Robert McCloskey), articles, and book reviews.

In 1985 he received his Ph.D. in medieval languages and literature from the University of Illinois. He is a professor in the English department at Calvin College and lives on a farm in Alto, Michigan, with his wife and six children. -Hamlin University

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Next Week: Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood


  1. I like the cover on this one! I've read a few MG books lately that seemed like they'd be challenging reads for kids. But maybe they're reading them the way I did--missing 25% but getting the story! Thanks for the thorough review :)

  2. I LOVED this book. I am glad I didn't read it too quickly after I read Okay for Now. They are so different and I loved them both.

  3. Hmm, not sure I'd like this. Thanks for the review.

  4. I loved his book Wednesday Wars. This book sounds different, but intriguing. Thanks for the review.

  5. I haven't read anything by this author- yet! I have a few of his books on my list. I really like the cover of this one and appreciate the things you pointed out for us. Great review!

  6. This book was so very different from Gary's other work, and that's what I admire about it and him. That he tried something new and succeeded with it. To me, that's a brilliant author.

  7. I loved the author's Lizzie Bright... It made me cry. This sure sounds like a different book. btw, I like the format of your post.

  8. I still can't decide if I want to read this or not, probably because it is so different from his other books. Glad to hear your thoughts.


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