what came from the stars

What Came from the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt

Valorim is a world torn by war.  The evil Lord Mondus is threatening everything that they hold dear, but one young man, Young Waeglim, manages to save it all.  He crafts the Chain of Valorim Art and flings it away into space, out of the reach of Lord Mondus and his threatening hordes of O’Mondim.  A young man on earth finds the chain and wears it.  His name is Tommy and his life is changed when he wears the chain, creating a new life from one devastated by the lost of his mother.  He starts to be able to do amazing art by using ‘”thrimble” and making it so lifelike it moves.  He speaks in a strange language, adding words that no one can find in any dictionary.  But most of all, he knows he has to save his home from the development that threatens it.  It was a place his mother loved, and one that means everything to his little sister and his father.  This is a book about loss and grief and yes, the universe too.

Schmidt amazed me here.  It is a book that plays with the motifs of science fiction, brings them to life, creates a world, and then… you just need to read this book.  For me, the ambiguous nature of the story itself as well as the ending means that it has a myriad of possible readings.  It could be just about loss of a parent and coping mechanisms, but I think it is about so much more.  It is about the power of art, the beauty of family, and the wonder of possibilities. 

Perhaps my favorite part of the book is the way that the world of Valorim and the earth world are separated by writing styles.  The earth world reads almost as any other modern children’s book.  It is peppered with Valorim words, but mostly straight forward.  The Valorim sections are flowery, lovely and wild reading.  They remind me most of the Jabberwocky poem from Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll.   It contains the same adventuresome spirit, the danger, the violence, but mostly the wordsmithing. 

I adored this book.  It would be ideal for classroom discussion because everyone is certain to have taken it in their own unique way.  I’d also suggest it for a perfect book to read on your own and discover.  It’s tremendous.  Appropriate for ages 12-14.

Reviewed from library copy.