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Pay Attention, Carter Jones

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  171 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Bestselling author Gary D. Schmidt tells a coming-of-age story with the light touch of The Wednesday Wars, the heart of Okay for Now, and the unique presence of a wise and witty butler.

Carter Jones is astonished early one morning when he finds a real English butler, bowler hat and all, on the doorstep—one who stays to help the Jones family, which is a little bit broken.

Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 5th 2019 by Clarion Books
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4.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  171 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Wendi Lee
Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick is a butler Carter’s family has inherited from his grandfather. He is very British and old-fashioned, and he immediately starts mending this broken family. We find out that Carter’s brother has passed away, and his father is stationed far away, incommunicado.

There are some fantastical elements to this middle grade novel: Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick is kind of a reimagined Mary Poppins, and some of the choices he makes are unconventional and even dangerous. Teaching 12 year-old
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
I have so many thoughts on this book! This review is totally off the rails and I apologize for that.

I think The Wednesday Wars is one of the greatest books of all time but sometimes I read Schmidt’s books and I’m like, “Who let you do this????” (Don’t get me started on Okay for Now, a children’s book about birding that I have never gotten a kid to read.)

This book’s version is: Who let him write an American children’s book about cricket?

I’m going along and I’m mostly ignoring the implausible stu
Leonard Kim
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This made me think of Louisiana’s Way Home, and not just because of kids driving cars and having to find forgiveness or at least understanding for a parental figure. It’s because Schmidt, like DiCamillo, can write with such intensity that things are allowed to be unbelievable and funny and absurd in a sublime way. But I think that has to start from the writing. Occasionally both authors, in their less successful moments, get it backward and start with forced absurdity rather than trust in their ...more
Ms. Yingling
Dec 12, 2018 rated it liked it
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Carter lives with his three younger sisters and harried mother while his father is in the military in Germany. When Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick, a trained butler, shows up on a raining morning when the family is out of milk and the dog is throwing up on people's socks and announces that the family's deceased grandfather left funding for him to continue employment helping out while the father is away, the mother takes advantage of his service. He's especially useful, si
Richie Partington
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Richie’s Picks: PAY ATTENTION CARTER JONES by Gary D. Schmidt, Clarion, February 2018, 224p., ISBN: 978-0-544-79085-8

“Look when the rain has fallen from the sky
I know the sun will be only missing for a while
I says, common people like you and me
We’ll be builders for eternity
Each is given a bag of tools
A shapeless mass, and the book of rules”
-- The Heptones (1973)

“Late that afternoon, it started to rain. I mean, really rain. Like an Australian tropical thunderstorm.
I decided to clean my room.
The premise of this story is dead on wonderful. Inside you find both humor and heart, and maybe too much cricket.

I've heard Schmidt speak a couple of times. Both times he has expressed the certainty that his calling to write books that speak to the best of humanity. And here we are, with Mr. Bowels-Fitzpatrick. A man of fervent conviction that asks you to, "Make good decisions, and remember who you are." If I would sum up Schmidt's writings in one word, that word would be, decency.

Perhaps a bi
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, arc, children
It's no Wednesday Wars or Okay for Now, but it's still DARN good. I just love everything he writes.
Laura Gardner
I absolutely love Gary Schmidt, but this book is my least favorite of his. The writing is beautiful and the emotional side of the story definitely hooked me (Carter's father is deployed and has found another family abroad and is abandoning Carter's family). There is a LOT of cricket in here, however, and I'm just as confused about how cricket works after reading the book as I was before reading it. In addition, while I love the Butler character, I found it unbelievable and even upsetting that he ...more
Pernille Ripp
3.5 stars, and it kills me to give a Gary D. Schmidt book this rating because there was such a fantastic story interwoven between all of the cricket stuff. But the cricket parts of the book dominated too much and were too confusing to follow for a non-cricket player/fan, even with all of the explanations given. Still worth a read though.
Debbie Smith
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
Sixth-grader Carter Jones is asked to answer the knock at the door as his mom and three sisters scurry around getting ready for school. At 7:15 in the morning, on the first day of school, Carter is shocked to see an English butler wearing a bowler hat and holding an umbrella as big as a satellite disk standing on his porch. It seems Carter’s grandfather has passed away leaving funds for the Butler to move from his Grandfather's employee to working for Carter's family.

Carter and his mother are re
Virginia McGee Butler
A butler, a cricket match, and middle school – even if you throw in a purple Bentley – doesn’t sound like a promising start for a page turning book, but then there is Gary Schmidt. The stage is set in the first paragraph, “If it hadn’t been the first day of school, and if my mother hadn’t been crying her eyes out the night before, and if the fuel pump on the Jeep had been doing what a fuel pump on a Jeep is supposed to be doing, and if it hadn’t been raining like an Australian tropical thunderst ...more
I picked up this book for no other reason that it was written by Gary D. Schmidt, and Okay for Now is one of my favorites of all time. So having no idea of the plot, I was instantly surprised and delighted. I was getting some serious Mary Poppins vibes right off the bat and a couple of the lines had me practically laughing out loud. The tone was also reminiscent of Everything on a Waffle, another of my all-time faves.

Not that I would say this book is perfect. I am left with some questions. I see
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was surprisingly touching. I have read others of Schmidt's books, which have all been good, but this one seemed to really go to my heart. The premise (a butler showing up on the family doorstep) isn't as unlikely as it seemed at first, and, while there are a few other things that also seem unlikely in real life, the story more than makes up for them in nuances that add so much. I am not a cricket aficionado, so those parts were a bit beyond me, but I did recently get back from Australi ...more
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

I was suspicious about this book at first because the premise seemed so tame compared to many of my favorite Gary Schmidt books. Yet, it ended up being charming, emotional, unique and fantastic.

Carter Jones is one of four kids living with his mom
while his father serves in the military overseas. Right away, you get the sense that their lives are a touch chaotic and overwhelming.

Then, Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick shows up on their doorstep. He’s a butler from England sent to assist the househo
Pay Attention, Carter Jones started off light and quirky, I thought maybe it was going to be almost like Mary Poppins but with a butler but as the story goes on it delves into much deeper issues. I thought these were handled well and the emotions and characters were very real and I sympathized with the characters as well. And even when the story gets dark there are enough funny moments to not make it a total bummer. The book lost me a bit with cricket though, as much as the author tried to expla ...more
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant, funny and incredibly moving, this book deserves all the stars possible. Using topics that would surely rate at the bottom for interest in a middle-school book (cricket, a grammar-correcting butler and a purple Bentley) Gary Schmidt works miracles. He crafts a story that gifts readers with characters impossible to forget, moments that made me weep and moments that made me laugh out loud in a book I didn't want to end. A master as much at what is left unsaid as what is said, Schmidt's t ...more
Kary H.
3.5 stars. I love Gary Schmidt’s work, and this one didn’t disappoint except for the over-abundance of cricket information. I had to be willing to suspend understanding, because I honestly didn’t, even though there was so much focus on the sport. Having said that, I loved the characters, especially the Butler, and how Carter Jones works through his own emotions. The relationship between the two was priceless. ARC courtesy of #NetGalley.
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is classic Gary D. Schmidt and I am so glad. I was a bit worried after What Came From the Stars, but the humorous-poignant writing is back in this book. The characters and the plot are both interesting, and there are plenty of little nods to English culture throughout. Sad and funny at the same time, Gary Schmidt writes for people who love to read. And this, with its Wednesday Wars feel, is no exception!
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: youth-fiction
This is my first book by Schmidt, but it will not be my last. I read an ARC from the publisher and found the story a lovely mix of humorous, poignant, and middle-school honest. The Butler is delightful and insightful, and Carter is a protagonist who fails forward and learns to stand tall. Good good good.
Cindy Dobrez
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Pay attention, Gary Schmidt fans, this book's a gem. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll learn something about the sport of cricket. Read my full review at this Bookends Blog post.

Shauna Yusko
Not my favorite by this author.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt is a fun and entertaining story. Carter is starting middle school and on the first day of school, a butler arrives to help the family. Dad is gone and Mom is sad. As Carter navigates through some life moments, his butler is there to guide him on his journey. The story had me thinking of Mary Poppins in some ways. The author weaves in various rules of Cricket so those not having a knowledge of this sport may find that a little distracting. This book ...more
Jenny Ashby
I am a big Gary Schmidt fan which is why I requested this book but I have always felt that his books have much more appeal for adults than teens. Despite that, there have always been a few students who get into his work and are able to grasp some of the deeper themes in his writing. I just don't see this being one of those books. There is SO MUCH cricket! Why is there so much about a sport that will not be familiar to most Americans, teens in particular? If the butler had just had Carter play it ...more
RJ McGill
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: middle school, 6-8 grade, ages 9+
4.25 -4.50 Stars for Pay Attention, Carter Jones written by Gary D. Schmidt

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
Katie Fitzgerald
Carter Jones feels very deeply the loss of his younger brother, Currier, who died after an illness two years ago, as well as the absence of his father, an army captain who has seemed distant from the family for some time. When Carter's grandfather (whom he and his sisters never knew) passes away and essentially leaves his butler, August Paul Bowles-Fitzgerald, to the family, Carter is at first totally perplexed. As Mr. Bowles-Fitzgerald steps into his new role in the household, however, he begin ...more
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Things are a bit chaotic in the Jones house at 7:15 am on the first day of school. When the doorbell rings, Carter finds that they have been sent a butler. Grandpa Jones in England has died and left enough money for his gentleman's gentleman to come serve their family in America. Carter's dad is in the military and stationed in Germany so it is just him, his mom and three sisters. Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick quickly gets the family settled in to a new routine. This routine includes figuring out who e ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-9-12-picks
Surprises come with a ring of a doorbell, but it’s unlikely you’ll find a butler on the front step like the family in “Pay Attention, Carter Jones,” by award-winning Gary D. Schmidt.
The Jones’ could use some help, the family of four is stressed with their husband and father deployed to Germany. Carter Jones, a sixth grader, his two younger sisters and mom have a lot on their plates, so when they discover the British butler, Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick, “a gentleman’s gentleman,” will be serving them,
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
Carter’s family is a bit of a mess. On their first day of school, there are lunches to pack, socks to find, ribbons to tie, and dog vomit to clean up. So when an English butler appears on the doorstep just as Carter is heading out to buy milk, it solves a lot of immediate problems. Still, there are other issues that Carter is still grappling with, including grief and loss. As the story continues, readers learn more about the darkness in Carter’s family and his role as the oldest to be strong for ...more
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Gary D. Schmidt is an American children's writer of nonfiction books and young adult novels, including two Newbery Honor books. He lives on a farm in Alto, Michigan,with his wife and six children, where he splits wood, plants gardens, writes, feeds the wild cats that drop by and wishes that sometimes the sea breeze came that far inland. He is a Professor of English at Calvin College.