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What Came from the Stars
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What Came from the Stars

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  1,048 ratings  ·  316 reviews
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. ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Clarion Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Wonder by R.J. PalacioThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateThe Fault in Our Stars by John GreenLiar & Spy by Rebecca SteadThe Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
Newbery 2013
39th out of 119 books — 1,170 voters
Looking for Alaska by John GreenThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen ChboskyDancing with a Dead Horse by Danielle DeVorThe Fault in Our Stars by John GreenPaper Towns by John Green
The United States of Teen Fiction
120th out of 325 books — 172 voters

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Community Reviews

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I have really enjoyed other books by Gary D. Schmidt so I was excited to pick this one up at our public library. Tommy Pepper is in 6th grade. His mother has recently passed away in a car accident for which he holds himself responsible. On his birthday a strange gift shows up in another present - a heavy chain that seems to hold mysterious powers. Suddenly Tommy is filled with strange visions and possesses unusual gifts. In a parallel story, on a planet far from Earth, an evil lord has overthrow ...more
Cathe Olson
I am a fan of Gary Schmidt and think he's a wonderful writer, but I unfortunately I did not enjoy this book. I am not a fan of high fantasy so that was a problem right there as this book alternates between extremely high fantasy chapters that take place in another world with strangely-named characters that all sound alike and were hard to keep straight, as well as its own language -- not to mention that those chapters were written with old-fashioned wording -- all combined made those chapters te ...more
From a middle school kid point of view, this is a 4, who knows, maybe even a 5-star book. It's clean, start to finish. Rather silly, but hey, you were once 12, too, like protagonist Tommy who's lucky (?) enough to have a necklace from another galaxy land in his lunchbox in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Schmidt is a talented writer of realistic books, but I think all the racket (read: coins in coffers) from the fantasy/sci-fi aisle attracted his his editor's attention, so here he is (ta-da!). Told in
This was one weird book, and I still don't think I really got the whole thematic picture. There's an alternate planet on which lives a Lord of the Rings type society, complete with Beowulf type early/middle English narration, and the epic stature of Homer. Then it's blended with a modern day kid who lives in Plymouth, MA, but is somehow linked to this society. But he's grieving deeply for his mother who has died.

The two worlds collide inside the kid's lunchbox when a chain arrives from space and
I'm torn. Torn! Between unbridled enthusiasm for this book and, well, hesitation.

I loved loved loved the family parts of this book. It was wonderful to see a good sibling relationship, and overall good family dynamics. The theme of grief was worked into the book without it totally taking over the plot, and that part just felt really genuine to me.

The second thing I loved about this book was the tone. You know how the best creepy movies are creepy not because of what they show, but what they don
Ker Malkin Gesulga
So there's this kid Tommy Pepper, a sixth grader in William Bradford Elementary School, Plymouth, MA, who found a chain necklace in his Ace Robotroid Adventure lunch box which was a birthday present from his beloved Grandma. What's with the chain necklace? Later.

I kind of liked the characters in this book, specifically Tommy and Patty. Their mom recently died so it must be really hard for them. I liked the melancholic feel of the way the story had started with Tommy and how they're struggling wi
I admit that I love Gary Schmidt, so maybe I am predisposed to highly rate anything he does. And I admit that this book is quite different from what we have come to expect from Schmidt. But there is much to like in this science fiction/fantasy tale set in two worlds with alternating chapters taking place on earth and on the planet of the Valorim. The earth chapters read like contemporary fiction, while the Valorim's tale is told in the formal style of high fantasy and the medieval bards, which w ...more
Edward Sullivan
This novel is quite a departure for Gary Schmidt and one I wish he'd not taken. The story is an odd mix of realism and fantasy with chapters alternating between the life of sixth-grader Tommy Pepper and a civil war on a distant planet written in epic-like fashion. Especially peculiar is the use of rather difficult Old English-like vocabulary and Beowulf-like names in the extraterrestrial chapters. Some readers may find it an enjoyable story but it doesn't work for me. I prefer when Schmidt's sto ...more
Buzzwords: War, other worlds, cultural appreciation/understanding, loss, family, healing, good vs. evil

Alternating between the old-fashioned language of the other world perspective and the down to earth language of the earth situation, this book tells the story of the coming of the Art of the Valorim to Tommy Pepper of Earth, to protect it from the desecration and destruction of evil. I liked the parts on earth much better - I would have appreciated some more background, personalization, etc. in
This book was charming, fascinating, and intricate. I loved the uniqueness and individuality in the plot, the characters, and the book itself. It is about a boy named Tommy Pepper who lives with a little sister who no longer speaks and a father trying to hold the three of them together after his mother's death. When a mysterious green and silver chain is found in his lunchbox on his twelfth birthday, Tommy puts it on and finds knowledge he had never known before--knowledge of wars raging in othe ...more
Richie Partington
WHAT CAME FROM THE STARS by Gary D. Schmidt, Clarion, September 2012, 304p., ISBN: 978-0-547-61213-3

“In the end there’s just a song
Comes crying like the wind
Through all the broken dreams
And vanished years”
-- Garcia/Hunter, “Stella Blue”

“’See for yourself.’ said Mr. Burroughs, and they walked into the classroom. They didn’t have to open the door—Tommy thought this was pretty familiar—because the door had already been torn off, broken in two, and thrown down the hall.
“It was probably the only thin
Emmet O'Neal Library- Children's Department
When a chain necklace falls from the sky and into Tommy’s lunchbox, of course he puts it on. What he doesn’t expect is the strange knowledge and skills he suddenly possesses. And what’s up with the eerie weather and the rash of break-ins in his small town of Plymouth, Massachusetts? As if Tommy didn’t already have enough to handle – a sister who hasn’t spoken in over a year, a dad who’s trying to save their house from a pushy real estate developer, and his own guilt over his mom’s death.

What Came from the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt is the story of a civil war involving a dark lord in a far-off world that sends a chain containing its history & arts to Earth and into the hands of sixth grader Tommy Pepper of Plymouth, Massachusetts, with resulting dangers that must be confronted.

The dual stories, on Earth and on a planet far, far away, are told in alternating chapters, with the Valorim's story written in a saga-like style and lyrical language, printed in italics. A Glossary in
Afton Nelson
Let me start by saying Gary D. Schmidt is brilliant. He does character like no one else. Spot-on! A master. And he didn't let me down in that regard with "What Came From the Stars." This book is hard to categorize. It's a kid in Plymouth Massachusetts who struggles with feelings of loss and guilt over the death of his mother while an evil real-estate developer is trying to push his family out of their home, mixed in with the story of a dying race on a distant planet. And Plymouth and distant pla ...more
I think I would have liked this book better if I'd read the last fifteen or so pages first, because there's a glossary and also an explanation of the Valorium, Ethelim, and O'Mondim that helps the rest of the book make a lot more sense. My biggest frustration with the book was feeling like I had no idea what was really going on in this other world or why it was going on, and the information at the end of the book helped give that back story and tied everything together...but it's irritating to h ...more
In a galaxy far, far away, the Dark Lord Mondus is about to kill the last of the Valorim and thus, seize control of their Art. In a last desperate effort, Young Waeglim forges the Art of the Valorim into a chain and sends it across galaxies and planets. And so it has come to pass that said chain lands squarely in the ridiculous Ace Robotroid Adventure lunch box of Tommy Pepper, a sixth grader from Plymouth, Mass. Thinking the chain is just another birthday present from his grandmother, Tommy sta ...more
It was hard for me to imagine Gary Schmidt writing science fiction. He has such a talent for creating characters that are so human that I miss them at the end of each book. I wasn't sure how that would translate into an aliens among us story and the alien angle did became distracting. There are some fascinating concepts, like art that can become animated on its own. There is an entire glossary of alien language that may be interesting to some readers. But I never felt as invested in the earth ch ...more
In corresponding chapters, this book weaves together two stories. One takes place in the present in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The other takes place in a galaxy far, far away. Through a “comet-like” necklace that hurtles towards earth, the two stories are connected. Tommy Pepper, a twelve-year-old, tries to deal with his feelings of loss over the death of his mother, and also struggles to help his father and his little sister. When this cosmic necklace lands in his new lunch box, interesting thing ...more
It is a bit difficult to classify the genre of this unusual story! Think Game of Thrones meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid. In a planet far far away, the Valorim are fighting a battle to the death with the Mondim. Desperate to save their civilization, they send a necklace that holds all the art of the Valorim to earth, where it is found by Tommy in his lunchbox. Tommy is just an average sixth grade kid, but he has some problems. He is mourning the untimely death of his mother and his home is threatened ...more
Some of this book is filled with stuff that is borderline-incomprehensible to me. Ten-point power-sword Hammer of Thor kind of stuff. Happily, it is all in italics so I know what I can skim over. (Over the course of the book I went from skipping it--the first seven pages, which really were completely incomprehensible to me--to skimming, somewhere in the middle, to reading lightly, once I was starting to see the parallels between the italics-world and the real world.)

I love a good fantasy set in
I am really having a hard time with this one. I admire Gary Schmidt for branching out into something totally different. In fact, the only reason I rated Okay for Now four stars was that it was a little too reminiscent of The Wednesday Wars. If I'd read it first, I'd have given it five. As usual, his prose is beautiful and he captures the essence of a damaged family. I don't like to speculate on what the author intends, but it seemed that he wanted to add a more universal and broader theme to the ...more
I couldn't resist checking out Schmidt's latest book since I have thoroughly enjoyed all the others I have read by him. Once again I was not disappointed. This capitivating Tolkein/C.S. Lewis-esque story is part family drama, part coming-of-age tale, and part adventure, with a sci-fi twist. It is also well-written and compelling.

There is no offensive language. There is some violence in the form of battle scenes, and yet the author somehow manages to leave out all descriptions of violence without
Another good Schmidt book - this one sort of a cross between something like Okay for Now or Weds Wars and something by Tolkien. Also probably the last book in many years that I read in a day!
Wanted to love this, because I love this author (and I love fantasy). But I didn't.
Tells two stories - the more realistic story of a tween boy grieving his dead mother in modern day Mass was pretty good, with some lovely writing in true Gary-Schmidt-style. But the parallel fantasy story involving a conquered race many light years away who send their last hope in the form of a necklace down to Earth read (not even kidding) like a kids' attempt to write a fantasy novel. I actually thought the open
Miranda (M.E.) Brumbaugh
I made myself finish it. While there were redeemable qualities like creative characters and wildly imaginative scenes, I did not see myself being emotionally connected to the story and I do not see myself remembering this story beyond tomorrow. It was a fun read, but not an epic tale with staying power. For anyone reading this, a tip: all of the words used of the language from the other planet that are not explained through the story are found in a glossary at the end of the book. REALLY wish I' ...more
I was surprised to see such a 'fantastic' novel written by Mr. Schmidt. Surprised and impressed. This is scary to an appropriate degree, sweet, and unusual. I was confused about the 'other worlders' Schmidt has created, mostly about who was who and what that meant, but exposition about races would have slowed the beginning down. (There is an explanatory bit at the end that maybe could have been a prologue...)

Anyway, I definitely recommend this to kids who like a thrill and a bit of sci-fi. (I wa
Serena Gulledge
I've never read Gary Schmidt's other titles, but I was intrigued by the summary and decided to give it a shot. I expected something along the lines of 'The Iron Giant'. I was way off.

The book opens up with the Valorim, a race of beings under siege by an enemy called the O'Mondim, and their leader, Mondus. To protect and preserve their history, culture, and beauty, a special necklace is forged and flung into the stars. The necklace winds up inside Tommy Pepper's lunchbox, who puts it on and is b
Hope Rozenboom
Since a friend introduced me to his books a couple years ago, Gary Schmidt has become one of my favorite YA authors (and thus one of my favorite authors, because YA lit is my favorite). However, I didn't enjoy this one as much as his other books I've read. The story is engaging as all the others, but I struggled through the alternating chapters that take place in the fantasy world of the Ethelim. They drag. The language attempts to be lofty fantasy, but it's boring. In general, I love Schmidt's ...more
A strange book, however quite compelling, as well. Each alternate chapter is part of the story of a planet far from Earth, going through some sort of revolution. It seemed quite convoluted and I as an adult, often was confused. It took several readings of these chapters to really understand what was going on. It seemed that a certain faction of society on this other planet wanted to take over from the existing "Council." At the beginning of this part of the story, the "Council" realizes they are ...more
1.5 stars.
*Spolier Alert*

Where do I begin? The only thing that didn't drive me nuts in this book was the writing style and only some of its characters but God know how awful was the plot and how boring and undeveloped it was.

Tommy Pepper, 12 years old, seems to be 30 years old speaking. I mean really? Or Mr. Pepper who I would call the Worst Father of all time. Seriously? So your 12 year old son seems to be doing strange things all of a sudden and you never even sit down and ask him what the h
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Gary D. Schmidt is an American children's writer of nonfiction books and young adult novels, including two Newbery Honor books. He lives on a farm in Alto, Michigan,with his wife and six children, where he splits wood, plants gardens, writes, feeds the wild cats that drop by and wishes that sometimes the sea breeze came that far inland. He is a Professor of English at Calvin College.

More about Gary D. Schmidt...
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“There is no Art made without power, and there is no reason for Art to be made except for power.” 1 likes
“Let the Art be brought back only for the good of the world. If it isn 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-long exile." —Young Waeglim” 1 likes
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