Saturday, September 22, 2012

Batty About Books - What Came From the Stars 2 by Gary Schmidt

Welcome to Part 2 where 
Batty About Books discusses
by Gary Schmidt

Clarion Books, 2012

If you missed it, here's Part 1 and a summary:
We are introduced to Tommy Pepper and his family. Tommy is recovering from a tragic accident and just starting to feel like himself. His family is trying to stave off an easement against their property. And he's wondering how to hid the childish lunch box his Granny sent him for his 12 birthday. Just a typical kid. Until he finds the most awesome necklace. Or is that awful?

On to Part 2 with my remarks in blue and Maria's responses in purple. Head over to Maria's Melange for the rest of the story.
What Came From the Stars
Part 2 p143 - p287 (plus glossary)

The End
What? That epilogue should have been a prologue. It gave the background information I could have used to stave off confusion in the beginning! I still had a hard time with all the similar sounding names and the fact that some people were helping other people while some person found a group of people and used them to attack some other people. Or, at least I think that’s what happened
I commented on the epilogue as well! I didn’t like it much - but I completely see your point. I think having this information earlier in the story would have helped stave off a lot of the confusion. I’ll be honest, I was also a bit tired when I got to this section. I just couldn’t get into it. It seemed like a poor way to end the book.

Mr. PilgrimWay
I think I can picture this tall creepy guy with a great voice. The silver-tongued Mr. PilgrimWay (love that he’s sorta named for the condominium Cheryl Lynn Lumpkin’s mother wants to install instead of Tommy Pepper’s house) reminds me of King Leck.  Although his powers aren’t as strong, he can still make Alice Winslow not care that she was in the back of the classroom.
Agreed.  I thought he was delightfully creepy. I am terrible with names, but this one definitely stuck with me. Well chosen.

Officer Goodspeed just left Tommy at home alone. He was only 12. Goodspeed hadn’t met PilgrimWay yet, so, no excuses.
YES! I completely freaked at this point (but I guess not enough to take a note on it). Really? We’re going to leave a 12 year old home alone because he says, “I’ll be fine”? Nope.

The fight back home just seemed unimportant. I do wonder what sort of power Lord Mondus would have had if he’d had the Art of Valorim as he was already very powerful and evil. It would have been cool to get a little pic of that so that we would know what we were fighting for and how important it was.
Ooo... I like how you think. Clearly you need to write a book! Yes, even if it was shown as a daydream - or something. This would have been a great addition to the story.

Fight 2!
Loved how James, Patrick, and Alice came to help Tommy fight. I do wish there would have been some cool sort of twist where Tommy was actually Ealgar or some such. The part where Schmidt started calling him Tommim and Mr. PilgrimWay switched to being Ouslim the Liar was just confusing and under-done.  I think if he had also mixed the text or added more of the other language or, something to signify or moved to having the rest of the book that way...but, for me, the way it was done didn’t work.
Okay, I see that. I enjoyed the blending of the language, but I agree that the name switching got confusing. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not good at remembering names (I either have to take good notes, look it back up, or just call characters “the dad”.) Maybe that’s why that part didn’t bother me as much, because I’m already bad at that? *chuckles* I appreciated the experiment in the style, but I agree that it could have been done in a less confusing manner.

Wrapped up
It was all too easy in the end. And a little draggy. I did love the O’Mondim but really. What Came From the Stars seemed to run out of steam about 3/4 of the way through. It just lost the magic for me as if I’d given up the Art of Valorim and forgotten the language and what I’d been so excited about. I still LOVED Tommy, Patty, Alice and all the rest but I found myself not caring about the other world.
I see what you mean. I never really felt invested in the world of the Valorim. I skimmed those sections, enjoying the language but eager to dive back into Tommy’s world. So since Tommy’s world was what hooked me, that kept me going. I adored how the idea of the O’Mondim was resolved. Tommy giving him back his personhood.... that did resonate with me.

The Glossary
Yeah. I liked it. But it was too little too late. I chuckled a bit. And I understood why it wasn’t in the beginning. But, too late. I was already gone.
Hmmm... I read the glossary just before finishing the first half of the book. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much? I’d read enough of the story to find it humorous, but not so much that I was just annoyed from the confusing terms.

I read a lot of books. A LOT. Always reading. I’m hard on books. I need to be hooked from beginning to end. I can get by a little bit of dragging in the middle. Or a little confusion in the beginning. Or a quick, easy wrap-up. Or even an ending that belongs in the beginning. But when you put them all together? ARGH! And yet, and yet. I still enjoyed the book. I would read it again. I will recommend it to students. It has something. It’s somewhere between early MG and early YA that seems to be missing at this level. It’s needed. And maybe, I just read too many books.
This is the kind of book that my students need. It’s challenging. It will be a stretch for my strong fourth grade readers. Yet there isn’t any violence or sex. I give a LOT of slack to books that give me that. I also enjoyed some of the risks Schmidt took in his storytelling, even if I didn’t find them all to be as effective as they could have been.

Readers: I hope you go out and get this book and read it. It's well worth your time. I would love to know your thoughts on it.

Up Next:
Batty About Books will be tackling Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. Check out these trailers:

Rachel Hartman reading from Serphina

Quick Look

This book has received 6 starred reviews so far - right up there with The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

Will it live up to it's hype? 
Can you go wrong with dragons who can take human form?  

Join us over the next three weeks and let's find out together!

In the meantime, don't forget to check out Maria's Melange for her side of What Came From The Stars by Gary Schmidt!

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Thanks for chatting! I love comments and look forward to reading yours! I may not reply right away, but I am listening! Keep reading and don't forget to be awesome!


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