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What Jamie Saw

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  982 ratings  ·  107 reviews
So begins one of the most compelling novels for young readers published in recent memory. It is a story of survival -- how nine-year-old Jamie, his mother, and his baby sister Nin leave an abusive situation, move to a small trailer in the woods, and slowly learn how to trust the people around them -- and each other.
Paperback, 128 pages
Published March 1st 1997 by Puffin (first published 1991)
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Newbery Medal Honor Books
82nd out of 312 books — 285 voters
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"What" in Titles
74th out of 115 books — 11 voters


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Community Reviews

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Monica!
Y’all, I want to preface this by saying that for all that What Jamie Saw is a Newbery Honor Book and all, I am not… entirely sure… that it will be enjoyed by its target audience. I don’t have any nine-year-olds to test it on, but I have a hard time imagining that it’s particularly popular among that age group, because holy crap, heavy-topic book is heavy. Heavy, and slow moving. Heavy, slow moving, and lacking what one would call a definitive plot structure.

Plus, unappealing cover.

LUCKILY! Lucki
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Juliet Schenk
What Jamie Saw is about a third-grade boy, Jamie, his mother, Patty, and his baby sister, Nin. The book begins immediately with Patty’s boyfriend, Van, getting annoyed by Nin’s crying and throwing her across the room. Luckily, Patty was there to catch the baby but Jamie saw the whole ordeal. Jamie’s mom packs up a bag and takes Jamie and Nin to her friend Earl’s house to get away from Van. After spending a few days with Earl, Earl takes Jamie’s family to go look at a trailer that Earl owned near ...more
Linda Lipko
This 1996 Newbery Honor book was also a finalist for the National Book Award. It packs a punch in a mere 126 pages and it addresses a social issue that is compelling and necessary to discuss, ie the impact that adult decisions have upon their small children. Jamie's mother chose to subject her children in an unsafe situation. In the end, Jamie's mother also chose a path toward better decisions.

Short of fuse and long of violence, the boyfriend of Jamie's mother symbolizes the terror that children
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Karla
I honestly don't remember hearing about this book, which won a Newbery Honor Award in 1996. I don't like the cover art, so probably would have passed it up. I don't really know why I started reading it, but after the first sentence - When Jamie saw him throw the baby, saw Van throw the little baby, saw Van throw his baby sister Nin, then they moved. -I was hooked. This story tells of domestic violence and its aftermath from the point of view of 3rd grader, Jamie. Even though the ugly subject mat ...more
Demeyia Clark
As a lover of books that bring attention to the touchy subjects that no one wants to talk about, this book does just that. "What Jamie Saw" is a story about a family who simply tries to get their lives back on track after a problematic situation, Coman's use of description and imagery makes the reader become the characters and develop a better understanding and appreciation for the book

Although I liked this book, I am not sure if the content will be suitable for its intended audience. The cont
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Alexis Flores
In this fiction story, you will see Jamie, the main character, live in uncertainty and fear. Overall I didn't really like this book because it didn't have no point in it.
This story takes place in Stark, New Hampshire in December. The setting will help the story later on in the book. Jamie, a little boy lives with his mom, baby sister Nin, and her father Van. Jamie and his mom, Patty saw Van throw Nin across her room. But Patty caught her with no injuries to Nin. After that happened, Patty decide
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Emily Bardin
What Jamie Saw follows Jamie's perspective of the affects of his mother's relationship with an abusive man. After Van, Jamie's mother's boyfriend, throws his little sister across the room--who is miraculously caught by his mother--Jamie and his mother and sister leave and find shelter in a friend's small trailer. Jamie and his mother cope with the adjustment of their life-in-hiding and the fear that seems to follow them no matter where they escape.

Though BYU-Idaho's library would characterize th
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Preston Shewell
This is a book about a little boy who's life is changed when he sees his stepfather throw his baby sister, motivating his mom to take him and the baby away to live on their own. While the main character is an eight-year-old, the subject matter and overall content scream young adult.

I wasn't too impressed with the book, despite its high praise from critics and its awards and nominations. There wasn't anything in it that really made it noteworthy, and it was honestly a little boring. I was impress
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Alondra Munoz
This book is about a third grade boy who saw his baby sister get thrown across the room by her mom’s boyfriend. Luckily though her mom was on the other side and caught the baby but as soon as that happened Jamie and his mom and sister sheltered with one of his mom’s friends and he had a trailer which they end up moving into. I wouldn’t say this is one of my favorite books because I don’t agree with some of the mom’s actions but I think this is a good book that gives the perspective of a third gr ...more
Laura
He saw it happen. He saw Nin flying through the air, and he saw him mom catch her. He saw his mom catch Nin when their dad, Van, threw her. But why did he throw her? Jamie doesn’t know. He knew why he and Nin and their mom went out to the car and drove through the night to a place far, far away, though. It was to get away from Van, to get away from being thrown in the nighttime, to get to a safe place.

But can they start over? Or will they always see the image of Van before them, violent – threat
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Lisa Rathbun
Because this book is short and the protagonist is in third grade, I think teachers might give this to children who are too young for it. If a teacher suspects that a child is in a possibly abusive situation, the teacher could recommend this book, but otherwise I would not want to see third graders reading it. Beyond the first sentence of the book, there is no violence in the book, except when Jamie kicks his mother as well as the drawer in which Nin is sleeping. But their fear is palpable. It is ...more
Caitlin
What Jamie Saw is a book about a young boy named Jamie, his mother, and his younger sister Nin. One night Jamie wakes up to his mother's boyfriend, Van, throwing his younger sister across the room because she is crying so hard. His mother miraculously catches Vin and she takes the kids and leaves. They go to his mother's friends house and move into a trailer at the edge of town. There they learn to deal with the fear of Van and dealing with their little family.

This story was very touching. The
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Tony Lee
The story is about a father throwing his baby out of a crib in the middle of the night and the family moves away from the father. This is basically the whole story. The story was very descriptive which gave me a good sense of what the surroundings look like but, not enough going on for the plot of the story. This story was a very quick read but it very confusing. There was no real climax to this story, and if there was it was right at the end. Nothing really exciting took place which was a bumme ...more
Sherrie
"What Jamie Saw" by Carolyn Coman

(from the back cover)
Jamie and his mom and baby sister Nin have moved to Earl's little trailer that looks like a toaster up in the hills in the middle of nowhere. Jamie imagines that they are the only survivors of some catastrophe, but they really moved because Van threw Nin across the room. Nin's okay, because Mom caught her, and Earl brings them food and makes sure they're okay. But then there's the county fair and Jamie wants to go. And there's school and he m
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Ch_jank-caporale
What Jamie saw should not be seen- ever. Not by children, not by adults. Unfortunately, it is seen all too often.
At the beginning of the book, Jamie lives with his mother, his half sister Nin, and Van, his mother's boyfriend. The first chapter is one of the most amazing openings to a book I've ever read. It is psychologically terse, with repeating lines, long rambling sentences, and a dream-like quality that represents a child jerked from sleep and unable to process what is happening. The reader
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Jen
Coman, C. (1995). What Jamie saw. Arden, North Carolina: Front Street.

Jamie is a nine-year-old boy living with his mother Patty and his half-sister Nin. One night, Jamie is startled awake by Nin’s crying and Patty’s boyfriend Van throwing Nin across the bedroom. Fortunately, Patty is there to catch Nin. Immediately following this abusive episode, Patty, Jamie, and Nin escape home to live with Patty’s childhood friend Earl. They stay with him for a couple of days, and in the meantime, they check
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Lana
What Jamie Saw is an amazingly detailed, realistic fiction novel, that I could not stop reading. This book partly takes place in a small town, partly in a man named Earl's house, and partly in a very small trailer in the middle of nowhere. There are four main characters in this wonderful book. Jamie, young boy that loves magic, and Patty, Jamie's mom, who goes through lots of tragic events. Two more main characters are Earl, Patty's great friend who takes care of Jamie and Patty for a while, an ...more
Eli Faber
If you crave action-packed adventure with a typical plot line, then this might not be the book for you. If you enjoy detailed descriptions that take you to a different time and place, you won’t find that in this book. In What Jamie Saw, Carolyn Coman tells a realistic story of one family’s struggles in the aftermath of domestic violence and trauma. From a third person point-of-view, we learn about the main character, nine year old Jamie, his abusive step-father, Van, his mother, Patty, and Jami ...more
Pamela Chang ibanez
"What Jamie Saw" was a great book. The beginning is very interesting and it ends with a great finish. To summarize this book quickly, it's about a boy named Jamie who saw his mother's boyfriend throw his baby sister across the room. Luckily his mother was able to catch her and Jamie, his sister and mom moved to her friend's trailer. Though he saw something very traumatizing, he tries to make it better by believing that it was just supposed to be a magic trick. Him and his family are living in fe ...more
Jackie
Third grader, Jamie and his infant sister, Nin live with Patty, his mother and step-father, Van. One night, Jamie awakes to his step-father poised to footfall-toss crying Nin towards the wall. Luckily, Patty catches Nin in mid-flight without being harmed. Hurriedly, Patty gathers up Jamie and Nin and high-tails it out of the house and seeks shelter with old friend, Earl.

After being exposed to Van's violence, Jamie exhibits some tendencies towards abuse himself. Patty is bewildered, frustrated,
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Carolynne
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Marlee
Oct 21, 2010 Marlee added it
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7Grace
What Jamie Saw by Carolyn Coman is a really good book. This book is about child abuse. After Van (Jamie's dad) threw his infant daughter across the room, Jamie, his mom, and his sister Nin decided to move. They had to find a home and adjust to their new life. As I was reading this book, It filled me with suspense. When Van threw Nin, I wanted to know what would come next. What would happen to Nin? Would she be okay? I constantly wanted to keep reading more and more. This book showed me what chil ...more
Jackie Pino
Escaping in the car with his mother and his little half-sister, Nin, Jamie tries not to think about what just happened. The end up living in a small trailer on an old logging road that is powered only by a generator. It is not much, but Jamie, Nin and their mom, Patty, make it home. Although they never talk about it, they live in fear of Patty’s boyfriend, Van, whom they had run from in the first place. Jamie’s teacher, Mrs. Desrochers is the only one who can pull both Patty and Jamie back towar ...more
Melanie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Books Kids Like
One night when Nin keeps crying, Van yanks her out of her crib and throws her across the room. Jamie's horror turns to relief when his mother catches Nin. That night, Jamie, his mom, and his sister, Nin, leave Van's house with their clothes, bedding, and Jamie's magic books. They move into an isolated trailer. For the first few weeks, Jamie and his mother feel like scared animals hiding in their burrow. Then, a worried school teacher reaches out, and Jamie returns to school. Healing takes time, ...more
cheyenne
the plot in this book is that jamie and his mom got in to a problem and had to move. they moved in to jamies mom's freinds house. and jamie had a good time becuase it was like he had a family. a mom and a dad and a little sister to pick on.
i can connect to this book becuase me and jamies fathers aren't living with us. and that is how we can conect and jamie gets a father out of his moms friend. just like how i get a father out of my uncles.
i rate this book 4 out of 5 stars. becuase sometimes
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Erica Mayberry
This book explores a all too common reality for some young children. I think this book is important for children because it shows that life is not always easy or happy as it may be for you, because other people have a dissimilar reality.
Snorkle
I thought this book dealt with a heavy subject matter in a realistic and engaging way. But it didn't overwhelm the reader with dark or scary images. It simply showed the perspective from a young boy's view and illustrated how abuse affects a family. I didn't like this book because I felt like it was too simplistic, it only offered a snapshot of the boy's life and his realization of that one moment. I liked the writing style of the book, but I wanted the author to go deeper with the plot and char ...more
Danielle
I spent some time in the middle grades stacks at the library and found this tiny book, a short story, really. I took it home and read it in just over an hour. Jamie sees his mother's live-in boyfriend do something terrible that thankfully doesn't end badly. He and his mother and baby sister leave and set out on their own. Jamie struggles with anger and confusion and often lashes out at his mother and baby sister. I was curious how such a small book would be grand enough in its literary scope to ...more
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Carolyn Coman (born 1951 in Evanston near Chicago) is a writer of children's books living in South Hampton, New Hampshire. Her books What Jamie Saw (1995) and Many Stones (2000) were nominated for several awards.

She worked as a bookbinder from 1975-84 and later as an editor with Heinemann before she became a full-time writer. Her books include the portrait documentary of the debut, and a picture b
...more
More about Carolyn Coman...
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