Review: What Came from the Stars, by Gary D. Schmidt

what came from the stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tommy Pepper is your average 6th grader, who likes football and hates homework.  He’s bright, kind, and sad. Tommy lost his mother in a car accident less than a year ago, and his family’s house by the ocean in Plymouth, Massachusetts seems empty without her. Tommy’s father hasn’t painted since that day, and his little sister, Patty, hasn’t spoken a word. To make things even worse, a local real estate agent is determined to obtain their property – a heavenly little piece of beach – to build a huge condominium complex.

Far, far away, on the other side of the universe, on a planet with 2 suns, a battle between good and evil is waging. The good guys, the Valorim, are losing. They are slowly but surely succumbing to the bad guys, Lord Mondus and his host of O’Mondim, faceless creatures from the watery deep.

As the last few brave Valorim warriors still stand, a pendant is forged – a chain into which is poured the Art of Valorim. Their art, their music, their power, their magic. With a last desperate hope, the pendant is sent up, up, up into the sky, through the atmosphere, across the stars, to a small blue planet with 1 sun.

It lands in Tommy’s lunchbox…

Soon, through the pendant, Tommy is seeing and hearing and feeling things. He’s painting magical pictures that move. And remembering things. Valorim legends, and his mother.

The dark Lord Mondus is furious to have lost the Art of the Valorim, and soon there are beings on Earth that are not of this world.

Storms come to Plymouth. Houses are ransacked. People are missing. Soon, Tommy must fight to protect his family, his home, and the pendant.

What will happen? Will evil triumph over good? How can good ever hope to defeat such a mighty evil?

What is the secret of the pendant? What exactly can it do?

Who are the Valorim? Who are the Ethelim?

Who are the O’Mondim? Where did they come from? Why are they evil?

All is not as it seems…

While the Valorim are teaching Tommy a thing or two, Tommy is also teaching them.  Tommy’s sadness, loneliness, and unbiased kindness will change the Valorim and Ethelim home world forever.

What Came from the Stars, by Newbury Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt, is like a Lord of the Rings for kids.  Full of magic and folklore. Battles of good versus evil. A story where music speaks to the heart, across any distance or language. An epic tale where kids, and gumena weardas, save the day.

It’s hard to get started and become immersed in this new world, when you don’t even know what any of the Valorim words mean. (There is a glossary in the back.) Throughout the book, you are switching back and forth between Earth and the far off alien world. It’s off-putting.

The writing at times is lyrical, and other times stilted. Sometimes it goes into excruciating detail (just like Lord of the Rings) and sometimes, it is the stuff of legends.

Keep reading, though. Fight, and stick with it.  And you will be happily surprised.

It’s like having to climb a high, stone wall, and then finding yourself on a winding pathway, twisting and turning into a secret, wondrous garden.

I love the happy ending, and the way the author wraps up all the loose ends; there is a feeling of satisfaction upon finishing the book.

Some illustrations would have made the book come alive.  The chain. The orlu. The gyldn. The O’Mondim. The beach. While I’m a strong believer in the power of an individual’s imagination, even one piece of artwork would have been appreciated.

I recommend this book for ages 10 and up. And as your child may have trouble with all the Valorim terminology, this would be a great book to read aloud – together.

If you like Lord of the Rings, Beowulf, Ranger’s Apprentice, Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson, you will feel right at home reading this book.

9/10.

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