What Came From the Stars

What Came From the Stars

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Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) September 2012

"The Chain of the Valorim flew upward, far away from the victory of the O'Momndim...the chain left that world and it flew on through the cold darkness, past farther galaxies and sped until listen! It came to a small wheeling galaxy and to a single small planet.... and it fell..... and dropped in the Ace Robotroid Adventure lunch box of Tommy Pepper, sixth grader of Plymouth, Massachussetts.

So begins an amazing struggle playing across the universe. Tommy Pepper, still grieving the loss of his mother, is about to open a portal to another world with its own language, own weapons and its own struggle between good and evil. This is a mind-stretching adventure that takes place on the Earth and far out across the universe. It's a layered story that reaches into your heart as you instantly come to care for this grieving family ... father, brother and sister. You want them to fight for everything they can hang on to including their home.

There's a feeling that the dark forces that are at play in other worlds are equally at play in Plymouth with the developers greedy hands reaching for things that don't belong to them.

And as I sat with tears streaming down my cheeks as I read about Tommy giving the O'Mondim a face, I just had to write the author and ask for his brilliant help. I could not quite grasp what was touching me so deeply.

And Gary D. Schmidt said: "The business of the O'Momndim is based loosely on the Yiddish tale of the Golem, in which the Rabbi creates the Golem, and then, when its task is finished, erases the word on its forehead that brought it to life--thus killing the Golem. I've always disliked that ending--bring a being to life, use it to solve your problem, then kill it.

So, the reverse is used here, where Tommy, who has feared the Golem, recognizes its deep loneliness (it is the only one of its kind on earth) and feels that instead of death, he will bring it greater life. He is only aware of this on a sub-conscious level, and it comes out of his loss of his mother.

The book is about, of course, loss and our response to it. It plays out on the epic scale, and then--more interestingly for me--on the personal scale, as Tommy is brought into a great and noble history, but comes to it in the context of the loss of his mother, for which he blames himself. His resolution of that problem through his own commitment and heroism is what, for me, drives the story."

And he, of course, makes it so clear. The loneliness that everyone has felt at some point in life rings true and the wonderful gift that Tommy is giving is the most compassionate possibility. How wondrous!

Ages 10 and up (Barb)


On a distant planet, a peaceful civilization is falling to evil forces. In an effort to save even just a little bit of their world, a few citizens bind all the beauty of their world into a necklace that they then send hurtling through the universe to a world light years away. Here on Earth, Tommy Pepper has just received a most unwanted 12th birthday present from his distant grandmother: an Ace Robotroid Adventure lunchbox. He is forced by his Dad to bring the hated lunchbox to school and Tommy tries to hide it under the table at lunch. When his friends demand to see what he’s hiding, Tommy notices a glowing chain among the wilted items in the lunchbox. He puts it around his neck, reaches for the lunchbox expecting to be ridiculed by his friends, and realizes with a shock that the lunchbox has been completely altered into something entirely new. As Tommy begins to realize something remarkable is happening and it has to do with the strange necklace, Lord Mondus from the distant planet realizes what has happened and begins doggedly searching for it. And he doesn’t care who or what gets hurt to get what he wants. Part realistic fiction, part science fiction this is a story of courage, determination, and belief in the power of hope.

Recommended by: Susan Grigsby, Librarian, Georgia USA

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