Monday, July 30, 2018

Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt

Schmidt's Insightful New Book

#NetGalley #PayAttentionCarterJones      Expected Publication Feb. 5, 2019

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 employment to working for Carter's family.

Carter and his mother are reluctant to let this man, who has mysteriously shown up on their doorstep, into their home. But the family's car isn’t working, Mr. Jones is deployed in Germany, and the chance that the kids will get to school on time is slim, so Mrs. Jones reluctantly allows the Butler in to help, at least for that morning. Carter, however, has no trouble sharing his very real concerns about the Butler.

“Can I just say, I wasn’t so sure about this. I mean, he said he was a gentleman’s gentleman--which obviously, is a dumb way to say “butler”--but he could have been some kind of missionary in disguise. Or someone selling satellite-disk umbrellas. Or someone casing out our place for a burglary. Or a serial killer. Anything."
Carter needs time to adjust to the presence of this new, somewhat demanding and unique man. A  man who loves the sport of cricket. A man who talks pretty weird. A man who insists that the dog needs to be walked. A man who is there to help mend a broken family, one that isn't even aware of just how broken they are.

We learn things as the story progresses. Flashbacks of "father and son" experiences that Carter recalls and the fact that Carter’s younger brother passed away while his dad was stationed far away.

The Butler introduces the game of cricket to Carter, which takes up a good portion of the book, but ties directly to the story.

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: As I mentioned above, cricket correlates very well with the theme of the story, but since I basically know nothing about Cricket, even though the author does a wonderful job of describing it, I was still lost part of the time. If I had it to do over, I would go to YouTube and watch How to play cricket: The Basics (or something similar) before reading this book. I recommend you do the same if you aren’t familiar with the game.

My second concern is that the Butler allowed 12-year-old Carter to drive his car, not around the block once, but many times, and sometimes with the family as passengers. I’m sure, well, not really sure, but think the Butler was trying to demonstrate his faith in Carter, however not a good way, in my opinion.

What I Liked Most: The first sentence in this book hooked me! This book has such depth and character development that it rated high on my scale. It has some humor and lots of subtle insight as well. But since the story relied so heavily on some knowledge of cricket, I rated it down just a bit. That said, I still highly recommend this book. I absolutely loved the Butler and Carter. Mark your calendar for February 2019 or pre-order it now.

Author: Gary D. Schmidt

Publisher: Clarion Books (February 2019)

Approx. Ages: 10-12

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