On the 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.
The 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.
Pay 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 way.
I recommend Pay Attention, Carter Jones for readers aged 10 to 13.
The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.