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Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D.…

Pay Attention, Carter Jones (edition 2019)

by Gary D. Schmidt (Author)

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222692,972 (4.5)None
Title:Pay Attention, Carter Jones
Authors:Gary D. Schmidt (Author)
Info:Clarion Books (2019), 224 pages
Collections:To read
Tags:21st C. American Literature, Children's Literature, Middle Grades, Sports

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Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt



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Recommended by Lauren B.

Carter Jones' father is deployed, leaving his mom to take care of Carter and his three sisters and their dachshund, while grieving for another sibling, Currier, who died of an illness. The morning of the first day of school is chaotic, so the last thing they all need is a knock at the door...but it turns out to be the Butler, who they have inherited, in a matter of speaking. The Butler, a proper British gentleman, takes matters in hand, Mary Poppins style, and soon everyone is off to school.

This will be a different and difficult year for Carter, and the Butler helps him navigate it - even when his help seems like more of "a pain in the glutes." The Butler teaches Carter the game of cricket - each chapter heading starts with a cricket term and definition - as well as the accompanying art of being a gentleman.

Carter's family history - Currier's death, his father's absence, and a trip Carter took with his father to Australia - comes out slowly, piece by revealing piece.


"Make good decisions and remember who you are, young Master Jones."
"You think I'm going to forget who I am?"
"You are entering middle school now. I think it quite likely." (14)

And just so you know, when you carry stuff like this around, you never know what kind of day it's going to be. Sometimes you get through the whole day and you're okay. Sometimes there's this little thing that happens...and that's it: the rest of the day you feel like you've been hit in the glutes and the stomach and the face again. And you wonder if that's how it's always going to be.
It probably is. (93)

"In the midst of great anxiety and great sadness, it takes an honorable man to nourish the goodness around him, small and fragile as it may seem."
"Is that one of those things you say that's suppose to mean a whole lot more than it seems to mean at first?" (118)

"And so you face a curious dilemma, one you will face often if you choose to live a life of integrity and challenge. Is it better to consider all ideas, to determine which one seems to you most reasonable and worthy, and then to speak your mind? Or is it better to follow old patterns and to acquiesce quietly into a general conformity?" (125)

"You are attending middle school, young Master Carter. You need not be stuck there." (125)

"Make good decisions and remember who loves you."
"I thought it was 'remember who you are.'"
"It is the very same thing." (161)

"We are what we love, young Master Carter." (162)

"The living of your life is hard work, young Master Carter....You must actively choose what to do. You may act the gentleman or the barbarian."
"Those are the only two choices?"
"Yes," said the Butler. "The only two." (211) ( )
  JennyArch | Mar 13, 2019 |
4.25 - 4.5 Stars for Pay Attention, Carter Jones

You are gonna love Gary Schmidt's
21st Century male version of Mary Poppins...umbrella and all.
He speaks the Queens English --
and he insists on proper decorum at all times.
Meet Carter Jones' new Butler -- or "gentlemen's gentlemen" as he would say.

Do you know the game of cricket? You will after reading Pay Attention Carter Jones. Each chapter heading is decorated with a word associated with cricket. It is printed in an attractive, italicized font, that while a bit difficult for older readers, youngsters will have no problem. It was a creative way to include definitions and complicated rules without muttering-up the story. For example, if I say, "bunny," you picture a cute, flop-eared, animal. Right? Wrong. "A Bunny is an unskilled batsman - who consequently appears as a rabbit caught in headlights." I appreciated the extra effort to familiarize readers with a game many readers know nothing about. But then the author included page after page of cricket into the body of the story. A wicket, true ticket, sticky wicket. Ugh! It is a swampy-mess readers must slog through to get to the heart of the story. In the midst of all the cricket there is a well-written, witty, deeply moving narrative told through the eyes of young master Jones.

The story opens on what appears to be a disastrous first day of school. Everything is going wrong in the Jones house when there's a knock at the door. Standing in the pouring rain with an umbrella as big as a satellite dish is a man dressed in a "funeral suit" and wearing a bowler. The sixth-grader thinks to himself 'no one has worn a bowler since the horse and buggy days.' After several attempts to shoo the man away and with his Mom "going crazy," Carter accepts his offer of help. We see immediately the cultural divide the butler intends to bridge. From the way he speaks -- using the "Queens English," to his proper manners, and his love of cricket. All will be introduced to the Jones family and through them to the entire middle school.

Carter learned that the Butler had worked for his Grandfather for many years. He made arrangements that upon his passing, the Butler's services would be provided to the Jones' family. So Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick and his huge, purple, "eggplant-looking," Bentley were here to stay. With his father on yet another deployment, his Mother definitely needed the help. The story is told from Cater's sixth-grade perspective. This gives the reader insight into his feelings and how kids react to grown-up problems. Because there's a deeper story going on inside Carter. He's dealing with his father's absence and a secret he's been keeping since their last camping trip together.

Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick is a delightful character that fills a void in the Jones family. Not just the absence of a father figure for the children, or a help-mate for the mother, but a deeper, more meaningful role that eases the family forward without Mr. Jones. This is a quick read. (I read it in about two hours.) It is well-written and thoroughly entertaining. Middle-schoolers will enjoy the dialogue and lunch-time shenanigans. There is a heartfelt story hiding amid all the cricket. If you can get through it, you will love this book. It's worth it.

Happy Reading,

*Thank you to HMHKids and Amazon for providing a courtesy copy of this book in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. ( )
  MrsRJ | Feb 18, 2019 |
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