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Pay Attention, Carter Jones

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,947 ratings  ·  534 reviews
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.

In addition to figuring out middle school, Carter has to adjust to the unwelcome presence of this new know-it-all adult in his life and navigate the butler's notions of decorum. And ultima
Hardcover, 217 pages
Published February 5th 2019 by Clarion Books
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Megan McCuistion Yes, the principal is a Lilian Swieteck. No mention of the connection though. Also wondering if the dad, Jack(son), is Jack from Orbiting Jupiter?
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Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,947 ratings  ·  534 reviews

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Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, children, arc
It's no Wednesday Wars or Okay for Now, but it's still DARN good. I just love everything he writes.
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
It doesn't exactly form a trilogy with two earlier Gary D. Schmidt novels—The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now—but Pay Attention, Carter Jones is definitely related, though set decades in the future. "Stupid old Marysville" isn't that different from when Doug Swieteck and Lil Spicer were kids, but a new generation is coming of age during a new far-off war, with fresh challenges to surmount. Carter Jones's family is in disorder. His mother has a hard time keeping Carter and his sisters—Emily (a se ...more
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
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third Gary Schmidt book that I have loved, along with Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now. This one has a similar feel and the only downside for me was all the descriptions of how cricket is played. Highly recommend these three of his books!
Monica Edinger
I read this quickly a few months ago as an egalley and was not enthused, but just read it again because of all the starred reviews and have changed my opinion completely. Schmidt is so masterful at the art of writing --- so many wonderful sentences and pages and paragraphs. Those poor daylilies, for instance. I think he balanced tone, character, plot, and more beautifully. I was on the Newbery Committee that gave an honor to The Wednesday Wars and think this is in the same universe as far as the ...more
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
Too much sportsball for my liking, but I can appreciate that others would appreciate the amount of sportsball included, and that it is a unique (at least for US readers) sportsball to include in a middle grade novel.

I also know Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick would hate that run on sentence, so it stays. 😎
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
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
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
Mary Lee
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
2019 Summer Book a Day #4

This was a book I did not expect to love or even like, but it snagged me and didn't let go until I finished it.

The Butler and his truths, the extended cricket metaphor, the way Carter grows into his true self (with the guidance of The Butler), the amazing craft of the writing (it's Gary Schmidt, after all). Highly recommended.
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hmm not sure they really eat pizza in Italy, I don't think it classifies as 'Italian food,' Mr Butler. This was a good book. Definitely not as good as Okay For Now but I still enjoyed it. I can't say that I understand cricket any better though lol. I think that other than what I learned from the google doodle with the crickets playing cricket is that the bowler has to knock down something behind the batter. Haha I can't even get my terminology straight XD
Heather Moore
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This story is on the lighter side of Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now, and was a perfect audiobook to listen with my 11 year old. My only beef with the whole book was that the audiobook narrator pronounced Swieteck differently from past narrators — which, at least a little bit, blows the illusion of seamless storytelling. We did love the references to our old friends in Marysville, NY and even though we wished we could hear more from them, it was enough just knowing they’re still around — perhaps ...more
Richie Partington
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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.
This reminded me of Sharon Creech’s Love that Dog in the way Carter deals with his problems and a cross of the two films Mrs. Doubtfire and The Kingsman in the caretaker entering a family’s life trying to make a gentleman out of someone. The story really grabbed me (even though I don’t like books involving sports) and I was emotionally invested by the end. Yet, despite how much I enjoyed the novel, there was too much of a feel that this all happened in a bubble that had no specific time or place ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susanna Paul
Ok, 5 stars I usually reserve for books that are exceptionally provocative or life-changing in some way. This isn't either of those. But this book does a number of astonishing things:
1) the middle school boy narrative voice is spot on
2) it essentially explains the rules of cricket (which I've never understood), and makes it EXCITING
3) it deals with the effects of trauma on said middle school boy in a convincing way
4) the phrase "pain in the glutes" is used with such perfectly hilarious frequ
Ms. B
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, childrens, sports
If you're looking for a book about the sport of cricket, you'll enjoy this latest book by the talented Gary D. Schmidt. On the first day of school, a butler shows up at the Jones household. There's Carter, his Mom and three younger sisters; Annie, Charlie and Emily. By teaching Carter cricket, the butler helps Carter overcome some tough truths.
Along with cricket fans, those who like heartbreaking and heartwarming family stories will want to give this one a try.
This book was provided to me for f
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
Every time I read Gary Schmidt I am amazed at how well he really "gets" teenage boys. Carter just starting middle school and dealing with everything that goes with that but also has a Dad that's deployed and a family grieving the loss of his brother. I loved the way Schmidt doesn't hit you over the head with messages but with humor and understanding guides you right along on the journey with Carter. The butler that shows up unexpectedly on the doorstep is perfection. I LOVED the dry British humo ...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.
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5th-grade-and-up
Wonderful, contemporary, gender-flipped Mary Poppins, where cricket takes the place of magic. The story with the father cuts deep. The simplistic, cartoon cover's all wrong and far too young for this moving, thoughtful (and very funny) story. Ignore the cover, make good decisions and read this one. Highly recommended.
Misty Wilson read.fine.print
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Gary Schmidt is one of my very favorite authors. This is a brand new one from him and I finished it in two days, and as with all of Schmidt’s books I loved the memorable characters and poignant moments throughout.

In the absence of his father, Carter Jones is taken care of by a Butler. The Butler teaches him how to be a gentleman, how to play Cricket, and most importantly how to love people. The characters are all so relatable and sweet, but they are struggling through painful situations. Schmid
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have suggested to three of my kids that they make time for this book in their summer reading. My affection runs deep. This book is nothing like but very reminiscent of The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics The Boys in the Boat. Each is heartening and inspiring. Each teaches a new sport bit by bit. The Boys in the Boat makes one care about rowing while Carter Jones creates at least a healthy curiosity about cricket, the game, not the bug. ...more
Andrew Blok
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another great book from Gary Schmidt. Read it in a sitting or two and get another heartfelt, heartwarming, heartbreaking story of a young boy dealing with challenges beyond his age. It's a book with a wacky twist that, like Schmidt's other books, don't feel too far a stretch to make. And even when it does feel a stretch, you don't mind much. Like in his other books, the protagonist is funny and honest as he works through a betrayal and heartbreak. As he learns and grows through each new disrupti ...more
Hannah Ziegler
This book did some things well I suppose - but between the butler, who acted like an obnoxiously snooty version of Mary Poppins, and the unnecessarily long descriptions of cricket, this book was...not my favorite.
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my new favorite books. Avoid spoilers and summaries. It is best just as it is!
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middlegradebooks
Sweet and feel-good modern Mary Poppins-esque tale but with a British butler and four kids dealing with grief over the death of their brother and the absence of their dad who is off on military deployment. Also, the sport of cricket. And a dachshund prone to vomiting.
Julie Snider
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn’t love The Wednesday Wars by the same author (although it is much more popular!) but I really enjoyed this sweet, sometimes funny, heartwarming coming-of-age book. A great little late Summer read.
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
I'm a huge Gary D. Schmidt fan, so I was very excited to read his latest book, and it did not disappoint me! This book is definitely on par with The Wednesday Wars and Okay For Now.

Carter Jones is going about his chaotic business one morning when a man shows up on his family's doorstep. Apparently his grandfather has died and left the family the services of his butler, with an endowment to pay his salary. Carter isn't sure what to think of the Butler when he starts serving tea with cream and sug
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
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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.

News & Interviews

You’d think that with, well, everything this year has had in store for us, readers would flock to sweet stories with happy endings. But as...
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“Make good decisions and remember who you are." "Make good decisions and remember who loves you.” 3 likes
“The living of your life is hard work, young Master Carter... You may act the gentleman or the barbarian."

"Those are the only two choices?"

"Yes," said the Butler, "the only two...”
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