Gary D. Schmidt

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Gary D. Schmidt
Schmidt at the Mazza Museum in 2012
Schmidt at the Mazza Museum in 2012
Born (1957-04-14) April 14, 1957 (age 67)[1]
Hicksville, New York, U.S.[2]
OccupationAcademic, writer
EducationGordon College
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (PhD)
GenreRealistic fiction
Notable works Just Like That
Notable awards
Anne E Stickney
(m. 1979; died 2013)

Gary David Schmidt[5] (born April 14, 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.[6]

Life and literary career[edit]

Early life and education[edit]

Gary D. Schmidt was born in Hicksville, New York, in 1957. According to Schmidt, he was named after gameshow host Garrison Moore.[7] 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."[8] After intervention from a concerned teacher, Schmidt found a love for reading, an event which served as inspiration for his novel The Wednesday Wars.[8]

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.[9]

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",[10] and a Printz Honor. In 2008, he was awarded a second Newbery Honor for The Wednesday Wars.[11]

Schmidt's novel Okay for Now, the 2011 sequel to The Wednesday Wars, was a National Book Award finalist.[12] It also was the winner of a 2012 Children's Choice Book Award.[13]

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.[14]

Schmidt and his late wife, Anne, have six children; one is a teacher.[15] He is a practicing Christian and describes himself as religious.[14] He also enjoys teaching writing courses in prisons and detention centers, and experiences there served as inspiration for his novel Orbiting Jupiter.[16]

The Wednesday Wars Series[edit]

In 2007, Schmidt released his award-winning book The Wednesday Wars. Four years later, in 2011, Schmidt released a companion novel, Okay For Now, followed by the third book of the series, Just Like That, in 2021. BookPage noted, "While each book can be read separately, overlapping characters and themes enrich each other in understated and often profound ways."[17]

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)
  • Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View (Del Rey; 2017)[18]
  • Pay Attention, Carter Jones (Clarion; 2019)
  • Just Like That (Clarion; 2021)[19]
  • The Labors of Hercules Beal (Clarion; 2023)[20]
  • Jupiter Rising (Clarion; 2024)[21]


  1. ^ "Schmidt, Gary D. 1957–".
  2. ^ Something About the Author Volume 193, p. 169.
  3. ^ Anderson, Myrna DeVries (Spring 2006). "Opening the Book that is Gary Schmidt". Spark. Calvin College. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  4. ^ "Announcing the New Anne Stickney Schmidt Scholarship in Young People's Literature". Hamline University. Archived from the original on May 17, 2018. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  5. ^ Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy in libraries (WorldCat catalog).
  6. ^ "Gary Schmidt | Two-time Newbery Honor-Winning Author". Retrieved February 17, 2022.
  7. ^ "TeachingBooks | Author & Book Resources to Support Reading Education". Retrieved February 17, 2022.
  8. ^ a b "With Audubon's Help, Beat-Up Kid Is 'Okay For Now'". NPR. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  9. ^ "Gary Schmidt". Calvin College. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  10. ^ "Book & Media Awards". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). November 30, 1999. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  11. ^ "Gary Schmidt". Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  12. ^ "Gary D. Schmidt, Okay for Now – National Book Award YPL Finalist, The National Book Foundation". Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  13. ^ Anderson, Myrna. "Schmidt is children's choice". Calvin University. Retrieved February 17, 2022.
  14. ^ a b "Calvin College". Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  15. ^ Anderson, Myrna. "Schmidt a finalist for National Book Award". Calvin University. Retrieved February 17, 2022.
  16. ^ "Gary D. Schmidt | Kirkus Reviews". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  17. ^ "Just Like That". BookPage | Discover your next great book!. January 4, 2021. Retrieved February 17, 2022.
  18. ^ Kucinski, Matt. "From Calvin to a galaxy far, far away". Calvin University. Retrieved February 17, 2022.
  19. ^ "Just Like That | HMH Books". Archived from the original on November 27, 2020. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  20. ^ "The Labors of Hercules Beal". HarperCollins. Retrieved March 15, 2023.
  21. ^ "Jupiter Rising". HarperCollins. Retrieved April 30, 2024.

External links[edit]