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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 College.

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)


Life and literary careerEdit

Early life and educationEdit

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 honorsEdit

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 lifeEdit

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. 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 bibliographyEdit

(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)


  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 16 May 2018.
  3. ^ "Announcing the New Anne Stickney Schmidt Scholarship in Young People's Literature". Hamline University. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b "With Audubon's Help, Beat-Up Kid Is 'Okay For Now'". Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  5. ^ "Gary Schmidt". Calvin College. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  6. ^ admin (1999-11-30). "Book & Media Awards". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  7. ^ "Gary Schmidt". Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  8. ^ "Gary D. Schmidt, Okay for Now - National Book Award YPL Finalist, The National Book Foundation". Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  9. ^ a b "Calvin College". Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  10. ^ "Gary D. Schmidt | Kirkus Reviews". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 2017-11-12.

External linksEdit