December 20, 2012
What Came from the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt
What Came from the Stars tells two intertwining stories.
The first is the story of Valorim, a peaceful art loving civilization that is under siege by Lord Mondus and a frightening race known as O’Mondim. As the leaders of the Valorim realize they are fighting their last battle, they take their art — song and painting and soul — and cast it into a necklace which is launched across the stars where it lands in the lunchbox of one unsuspecting boy.
The second story is about that boy — Tommy Pepper. When sixth grader Tommy Pepper puts on the strange chain he finds in his lunch box, strange things begin to happen. First, the scene painted on his lunchbox changes and, perhaps oddest of all, the painting moves. Then he starts talking about both suns and people and places that his teacher and classmates have never heard about before. In fact, they can’t find the words he is using in their classroom dictionary.
Lord Mondus isn’t about to loose the Art of the Valorim and sends various of his henchmen to fetch it back.
Tommy isn’t sure why he shouldn’t give his necklace up to the odd substitute teacher that everyone else seems to like but it just seems like a really bad idea. And why does everyone think that stench is rotten sea week when he knows it is the O’Mondim?
Tommy finds himself in the middle of a battle, complete with unusual sword-like weapons, that he doesn’t understand. Fighting to save his father, his sister and his very home. As he fights, Tommy must decide what is most important, what it means to be loyal and how he can make up for his mother’s death long months and months before the fighting started.
Another great book for fantasy lovers and, although the main character faces tough choices, this isn’t too graphic or gory for younger readers. It is eerie and more than a bit ominous though so there is plenty of atmosphere and tension. A good choice for both boy and girl readers since there are heroic characters of both genders and well as enough bad guys to go around.
Some adults will fail to appreciate how clueless the adults in the book are, but these are probably the same adults who fail to appreciate how clueless the adults in the real world seem to be.
A great book to prompt discussions on responsibility, loyalty, just what it means to be heroic.