Thursday, October 11, 2012

What Came from the Stars

A distant planet, nearly overcome by evil forces, sends the best of its existence, forged into a chain, across the universe to Plymouth, Massachusetts, into the lunchbox of Tommy Pepper. Tommy and his family grieve for his dead mother, and resist the encroaching real estate development that threatens their ramshackle home. How can he deal with his own problems, and still protect this treasure from the dreadful foes who want it?

The best of fantasy/sci-fi for the chapter book crowd, written by Gary D Schmidt. What Came from the Stars won a Newbery Honor and was a National Book Award finalist, and for good reason. The storyline of high fantasy manages to pull off the other-world setting without getting too long-winded or high-vocabulary, despite the necessity of making up a lot of words. In contrast, Tommy's everyday world of school and bus, overladen with the pall of grief that renders his sister mute and his family emotionally paralyzed, is strikingly ordinary, despite the specifics of the beach and a nasty real-estate developer. When these worlds collide, the O'Mondim (made of sand), Ouslim the Liar, and Ealgar (one day known as The Bold) must deal with Tommy and his family, his friends, and the faculty of William Bradford Elementary School. 

As if that weren't enough, Schmidt mixes compassion and humor into a story that is both complex and happily-ever-after. A tour de force. 


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