On a distant planet, the besieged Valorim send a necklace containing their planet to Earth in a last-ditch effort to save their civilization.
Tommy Pepper, a sixth-grader living in Plymouth, Mass., finds the necklace, wears it and is gradually changed by it. He doesn’t acquire the otherworldly powers of a Superman, as the story’s premise might suggest, but he does begin to utter unusual words and imagine a strange world with two suns. He begins to remember his recently deceased mother in fond detail that eases his loss. His uncanny drawings and paintings actually have movement and new kinetic powers help him silence bully Cheryl Lynn Lumpkin on the school bus. He even creates a living creature out of sand, reminiscent of the Golem of Jewish lore or David Almond’s Clay (2006). Meanwhile, there’s a behind-the-scenes intergalactic battle going on for the necklace, which fans of the movie Men in Black may find pleasantly familiar. Italicized scenes from the planet of the Valorim alternate with Tommy’s narrative in Plymouth, though readers will be challenged by Schmidt’s obvious delight in creating an Anglo-Saxon planet, which has a corresponding Old English vocabulary requiring a seven-page glossary.
Spielberg, get ready for this boldly imagined outer-space offering. (Science fiction. 10-14)