Gary D. Schmidt

Writer of Okay Yet Troublesome Books

About the Author

Gary D. Schmidt has been awarded two Newberry Honors for his books Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, and The Wednesday Wars. Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy also won a Printz Honor. Gary's book, Okay for Now, was nominated for a National Book Award. Schmidt has written some children books, but most of his works are for Young Adult readers. His most recent book is What Came From the Stars.

Gary now lives on a farm in Alto, Michigan where he can take in the rural sites and sounds. Schmidt works at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and at a writing for children program at Hamline University. Schmidt is married to a beautiful wife named Anne, and they have children.

One cool fact about Gary Schmidt is that he never wanted to become an author. He wanted to go to military school and become a career naval officer, but then he changed his mind and wanted to become a vet, and then after that, Gary studied to become a lawyer until his senior year, where he decided to major in English and to become a teacher. Gary says that, "somehow becoming a writer happened along the way" which is quite astonishing, figuring that he wanted to become three other occupations before.

Gary Schmidt's List of Works

For this project I read:

Wednesday Wars

Straw Into Gold


Okay for Now

Previously I had read:

Wednesday Wars

Okay for Now

If you are interested in reading a book by Gary Schmidt, I would recommend reading Trouble or the Wednesday Wars/Okay for Now book pair.

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Common Themes in Schmidt's Works

The theme that was very common in Schmidt's books was that people can be misjudged, and that you don't really know a person 'till you actually meet face to face, and assumptions and rumors can be misleading. This theme was very common in Okay for Now, Wednesday Wars, and Trouble. All of these books have a character who seems to despise the protagonist, therefore, the protagonist and all of his friends immediately turn on the "antagonist" because they think that he is pure evil all of the time. However, in all of these stories, the "antagonist" has a backstory of some sort which straightens things out among all of the characters. The books all end in a happy sort of way, which is an example of everything being fine in the end in life. All of the characters learn that no person is 100% evil or 100% good in these books which is an important life lesson to reality.

A Short Story In Gary Schmidt's Writing Style

I wasn't going anywhere special. Just to school. School. The place where dreams were crushed faster than an orange in a juicer. The place where people laughed because you weren't wearing the coolest and newest sport shorts that are available. The place where teachers, teachers like nasty Mrs. Grouch, would make you recite pi until you cried.

I hate school, if you hadn’t noticed already, and I decided that nothing could be done about this problem though, because at this rate, I would only be graduating when my sister finished college. I lost my Dad years ago, and I really don’t think that my mother will ever be the same. My family was torn and tossed around like a rag doll by Death, and unfortunately, Death controlled us constantly.

Another reason why I hate school is because I have this arch enemy, a bully named Bruce, who is like the offspring a hammerhead shark bread with a stonefish, ugly, disturbing, and as mean as an angry tiger.

My opinion of school may have altered a bit though, because yesterday, something miraculous happened. Here’s what happened:

I was walking to school one day, when Bruce, the school bully, put me into a headlock, and I couldn’t breathe. I tried to tell Bruce to let go, but I couldn’t say anything. Just when I thought that my fragile little world was over, Mrs. Grouch, the nastiest teacher ever, ripped Bruce off of my body like a human pulling a tick off of a dog, and dragged him to the principal's office.

After that, Mrs. Grouch forced Bruce to apologize, and threw him in delinquent jail for weeks. I was so happy, and I couldn’t even begin to thank Mrs. Grouch, praise Mrs. Grouch, respect Mrs. Grouch. I went home with my head held high, but I found out that that would be short lived. My sister, Jessica, passed out of the floor. Her heart wasn’t beating, and my mom was kneeling over her on the floor. I went upstairs, upset. Death was going to take my sister.

Later that night, Death got my sister, snatched her up, and turned her into a dog toy for his Death dog.

Life went on though, and I no longer feared Death, I embraced it.

Gary Schmidt's Writing Style

Gary Schmidt's writing style can be very straightforward, or more confusing and difficult to read. Many children like Schmidt's more straightforward work because it's easy to read, but still enjoyable with a nice plot. Schmidt's more complex works however, are still very good, and centered towards more adult readers.

Here are some common traits for his writing:

  • Gary Schmidt's books vary between the first and second person
  • In Gary's children's books, there are more sentences, and most of them are simple, and in his young adult/adult books, there are less sentences, but they are more complex.
  • Gary will normally make a really long sentence, then put a short sentence right after it to add some variety, and to make a nice start and stop motion while reading.
  • Schmidt usually starts the sentence with the subject, which is either a character, or occasionally, an object.
  • Gary uses very deep adjectives and describes the scene and every object in it before talking about the characters.
  • Schmidt likes to repeat himself to make clearer points, and also to add reputation, which can make a vibe towards a certain emotion, or to symbolize something that will become important.
  • Gary likes to use foreshadowing in his works

On a random page in a Gary Schmidt book:

  • A sentence length varies from 3-59 words.
  • The average sentence length is 28 words.
  • 36% or the sentences are complex, 27% are compound, and 27% are simple.
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