Gary D. Schmidt

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Gary D. Schmidt
Schmidt at the Mazza Museum in 2012
Schmidt at the Mazza Museum in 2012
BornGary D. Schmidt
April 14, 1957 [1]
Hicksville, NY[1]
OccupationAcademic, writer
ResidenceGrand Rapids, Michigan
GenreRealistic fiction
Notable works
Notable awards
Anne E Stickney
(m. 1979; died 2013)
Childrenhe has 6 children, one is a 5th grade teacher at Townline Elementary in Kentwood, MI.

Gary D. Schmidt (born 1957) is an American author of children's and young adults' fiction books. He currently resides in Alto, Michigan, where he is a professor of English at Calvin University.

Life and literary career[edit]

Early life and education[edit]

Gary D. Schmidt was born in Hicksville, New York, in 1957. As a child, Schmidt says he was underestimated by teachers at an elementary school where students were classified by aptitude. Concerning his early education, Schmidt explained in an interview with NPR: "If you're Track One you're the college-bound kid; if you're Track Two you'll have a good job; if you're Track Three you're the stupid kid. And I was tracked as Track Three."[4] After intervention from a concerned teacher, Schmidt found a love for reading, an event which served as inspiration for his novel The Wednesday Wars.[4]

In the mid 1970s, Schmidt attended Gordon College, earning an undergraduate degree in English in 1979. Thereafter he attended University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, obtaining a master's degree in English in 1981 before graduating with a PhD in medieval literature in 1985. Schmidt has since worked as a professor for the English department at Calvin College.[5]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2005, Schmidt's novel Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy was awarded a Newbery Honor, which recognizes "the most distinguished contribution[s] to American literature for children",[6] and a Printz Honor. In 2008, he was awarded a second Newbery Honor for The Wednesday Wars.[7]

Schmidt's novel Okay for Now, the 2011 sequel to The Wednesday Wars, was a National Book Award finalist.[8]

Personal life[edit]

In 1996, Schmidt was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. While being treated, he was exposed to a variety of other cancer patients whose stories, he claims, served as inspiration for future novels and encouraged him to write primarily for children and young adults.[9]

Schmidt and his late wife, Anne, have six children; one is a teacher at Townline Elementary School. He is a practicing Christian and describes himself as religious.[9] He also enjoys teaching writing courses in prisons and detention centers, and experiences there served as inspiration for his novel Orbiting Jupiter.[10]

Selected bibliography[edit]

(In order of publication)

  • The Sin Eater (Dutton Publishers; New York; 1996)
  • The Blessing of the Lord (Eerdmans; 1997)
  • William Bradford: Plymouth's Faithful Pilgrim (Eerdmans Publishing Company; Grand Rapids; 1999)
  • Anson's Way (Clarion Books; New York; 1999)
  • Ciaran: The Tale of a Saint of Ireland (Eerdmans Publishing Company; Grand Rapids, MI; 2000)
  • Mara's Stories (Henry Holt; New York; 2001)
  • Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (New York; Clarion Books; 2004)
  • In God's Hands (Jewish Lights Publications; Woodstock, Vermont; 2005)
  • First Boy (Henry Holt; New York; 2005)
  • The Wednesday Wars (Clarion Books; New York; 2007)
  • Trouble (Clarion Books; New York; 2008)
  • Straw into Gold (Clarion; 2009)
  • Okay for Now (Clarion Books; New York; 2011)
  • What Came from the Stars (Clarion Books; New York; 2012)
  • Martín de Porres: The rose in the desert (Clarion; 2012)
  • Orbiting Jupiter (Clarion; 2015)
  • Pay Attention, Carter Jones (Clarion; 2019)


  1. ^ Something About the Author Volume 193, p. 169.
  2. ^ Anderson, Myrna DeVries (Spring 2006). "Opening the Book that is Gary Schmidt". Spark. Calvin College. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  3. ^ "Announcing the New Anne Stickney Schmidt Scholarship in Young People's Literature". Hamline University. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "With Audubon's Help, Beat-Up Kid Is 'Okay For Now'". NPR. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  5. ^ "Gary Schmidt". Calvin College. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  6. ^ admin (November 30, 1999). "Book & Media Awards". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  7. ^ "Gary Schmidt". Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  8. ^ "Gary D. Schmidt, Okay for Now – National Book Award YPL Finalist, The National Book Foundation". Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Calvin College". Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  10. ^ "Gary D. Schmidt | Kirkus Reviews". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved November 12, 2017.

External links[edit]