babyhippoface's Reviews > What Came from the Stars

What Came from the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt
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Sep 16, 13

bookshelves: fantasy, kids-fiction
Read in July, 2013

Tommy Pepper lives with his father and little sister, Patty, in a sagging, old beach house near Plymouth Rock. Their house used to be full of music and laughter before his mother died. Now, it's quiet. The three who remain spend a lot of time watching the sunrise on the beach, sitting in front of their fireplace watching the flames, and trying desperately to keep their home in the face of an aggressive and obnoxious real estate developer. Patty has stopped speaking in the wake of her mother's death. One word from her, one happy skipping moment into the school building would make Tommy's heart soar. Patty stays silent.

Meanwhile, on another planet far from our galaxy, Young Waeglim, the last of the Valorim, knows that the Reced is doomed, that Ethelim will fall to the faceless O'Mondim. In one last desperate reach for hope, the Forge is heated again, and Young Waeglim hammers out a green and silver Chain that holds the Art and the Heart of the Valorim. He holds it in the dying light of the setting Hengest, and with his Song and Thought sends it soaring away from Weoruld Ethelim. The Chain flies through galaxies to a small blue planet, where it lands in the lunchbox of Tommy Pepper, whose life will never be the same.

After Tommy places the Chain of the Valorim around his neck he begins uttering words from a strange language, knowing things from an unknown world, painting with thrimble. His town, his school, and his home are beseiged by an evil that destroys and affects nature in dangerous ways. Someone or something out there wants what Tommy has, but Tommy also has a quiet understanding that he must not give it up.

Gary Schmidt is an amazingly gifted writer. Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy and Okay for Now are both among my all-time favorites. This is very different from anything else I've ever seen by Schmidt, and it took me a while to work up an appetite for it. Science fiction holds no appeal for me. But Gary Schmidt does, so I read it.

I was very pleasantly surprised. So imaginative, and just so well-written. The opening chapter takes place in another world, with another vocabulary, and yet I was able to understand it all. (You want to teach kids about making inferences? How much fun would it be to have them read the accounts of Young Waeglim and the Valorim, then define the unknown words by what they understand from the text and their own experience?)

Although I felt the story dragged juuuust a little near the last 1/3, I was in it for the long haul. Tommy Pepper was young but strong, and I truly wanted him to win. Win for Ethelim. Win for the Valorim. Win for his tired father and little Patty. Go, Tommy. Win.
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Reading Progress

09/16/2013 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by bennett (new) - added it

bennett Why do you still have it on "to-read"?


babyhippoface Uh...because I'm a doofus, I guess. Fixed. :)


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