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What Came from the Stars Hardcover – September 4, 2012
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From School Library Journal
“Spielberg, get ready for this boldly imagined outer-space offering.”—Kirkus
“Schmidt, already a best-seller and award winner, should pick up even more fans with this crowd-pleasing fantasy.”—Booklist
“Wonderfully strange. . . . This inventive and memorable story for readers ages 10-15 manages to mingle the quotidian and the movingly supernatural. It's funny, too.”—The Wall Street Journal
"The balance of emotions is flawless."—Bulletin
Top Customer Reviews
This author has a wonderful gift for writing children's characters. We've seen it in his award winning previous work, and it is full display here. Tommy and Patty Pepper are well rounded, believable characters that will tug at your heartstrings, and their dialogues ring with an authenticity that makes you feel like you are right there with them in the schoolyard navigating the bullies and the lunch room. The author sets the Massachusetts scenery just beautifully, especially at the end, where I totally felt the chilly sea air and could smell the seaweed stink. I could often feel Tommy's terror, and the author uses a combination of some excellent descriptive writing, authentic inner dialogues, and spot on pacing to generate some moments that were truly creepy, even for this adult reader.Read more ›
Gary Schmidt is a prime example of the depth this genre. I have read every one of his books and have yet to be disappointed. "What Came from the Stars" is a prime example.
On the surface, this novel is Schmidt's foray into science fiction. In reality, it is an examination of loss, forgiveness, and redemption. No spoiler alert here. I am not going to give away the plot. But these plot elements are so deftly woven into the story that they are almost invisible. But by the end of the book, the reader cannot help but feel and understand them. A heck of a lesson for young people.
Schmidt has many valuable qualities as a writer. He has impeccable command of voice. In his two best known books - "Wednesday Wars" and "Okay for Now" - the protagonists' voices are true to their ages and yet are completely different. Written in the first person, the protagonists of both books do not relate their stories to the readers. They tell it as if seated across the dinner table. They are there with you. "What Came from the Stars" is written in the third person, but the reader still gets a vivid sense of Tommy Pepper, the protagonist. This book could not have been written in first person, and Schmidt knew that. In third person, we can ache for Tommy's losses. If written in first person, he could have come across as a complainer or whiner.
Schmidt's most important quality as a writer is a profound respect for his readers.Read more ›
It's a thin story about a Plymouth, Massachusetts family struggling after mother dies. Father develops painter's block. First-grade daughter stops talking. Sixth-grade son stumbles along -- until a necklace containing the art and wonder of another society lands in his lunch box after an impossibly long inter-galactic journey. Not surprisingly, sinister beings from the far away planet want the necklace back and come after it. Trouble follows. That's it. Seventeen dollars.
The REAL trouble comes in the form of 12 short chapters (and a closing gospel) written in italics that hyphenate the 21 chapter book. The 12 chapters describe the problems on the far away planet that the reader quickly wishes was even farther away. The language is baroque and pretentious, sounding like Yoda impersonating Cecil B. DeMille doing the voice-over in The Ten Commandments. The chapters are cluttered with invented words and stilted pronouncements. They are over-written (deliberately, one would hope after reading "stilled the blood and gentled the hurt of his wounds") and murky enough to make you want to run the other way as fast as you can the instant you see italics.
Throughout the book the author uses an annoying technique, repeating sentences and sentence fragments multiple times in succession. It's almost like he's saying "be scared" or "cry now" rather than finding a way to make the reader do either. He also holds some goofy views like, for example, that the speed of thought is faster than the speed of light. Really? Ever listen to an elected official?
Most any reader given a quiz on the twelve italic chapeters would certainly fail. So does the book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a hard story to get into. I actually won this ARC back in September, tried reading it and only got 15 pages in. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Elyse
This book was purchased for a summer reading assignment for my 11 year old neighbor. Not much more to say about this book. It was required reading....Published 10 months ago by Franklin H.
I'll admit, I had to read this book for a college course (I am a 4-8th grade language arts education major) and I will not ever ask my students to read this book. Read morePublished on May 24, 2013 by book lover
Being a book by Gary Schmidt, this is a compelling read with an authentic protagonist and lovely writing. That said, this is not Schmidt's typical realistic fiction. Read morePublished on March 28, 2013 by Miss Print
I am a fan of Gary Schmidt and think he's a wonderful writer, but I unfortunately I did not enjoy this book. Read morePublished on January 31, 2013 by Cathe
1) I loved the author's Okay for Now earlier this/ last year. That book should have won the Newberry. Read morePublished on January 4, 2013 by Julia Walter
My grandson will be 6 years old in 12/12 and I ordered this book because he has so enjoyed the "Star Wars" movies and is having the "Harry Potter" series read to him at home. Read morePublished on October 26, 2012 by Sue
This book is a joy to read; creative, insightful and full of the internal workings of middle school life that Schmidt does so well. Read morePublished on September 28, 2012 by M. Hulst
After adoring Okay For Now, one of my top reads of 2011, I was excited to see another book from Schmidt and eagerly requested it. Read morePublished on September 21, 2012 by bookworm1858