first day of sixth grade Carter Jones opens his front door to find a butler, sent
to help his family as part of a bequest in Carter’s grandfather’s will. And the
family certainly needs help. Carter has three younger sisters, a dad deployed in
Germany, and a mom trying to keep everyone organized. Plus, the family is still
grieving the unexpected death of Carter’s younger brother, Currier.
butler, Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick, brings much needed authority and organizational
skills to daily life, and he soon has the household running smoothly. But he
also introduces something new to Carter and his fellow classmates at Longfellow
Middle School: cricket. As Bowles-Fitzpatrick gathers a team and teaches them
the rules, he also teaches Carter how to step up in the game of life.
Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt has
both light-hearted and serious moments as it tells the story of a boy trying to
find his way during a confusing time. He knows he’s at the bottom of the social
ladder as a sixth grader in middle school, but he finds a way to stand out
through cricket. He knows he needs to help out at home more, but he’s not sure
how to do it until Bowles-Fitzpatrick guides him in making good decisions. And
by taking things one step at a time, he figures out how to move forward even
though life isn’t turning out the way he expected. It’s a great look at how children
can confront grief, overcome obstacles, and navigate whatever life throws their
I recommend Pay Attention, Carter Jones for readers aged 10 to 13.
provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.