Pay Attention, Carter Jones (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Why would a totally unknown and exceedingly proper English butler suddenly appear at a very American family's front door? That's simple enough. His service was given to the family by a relative who died, and his service is much needed. When Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick arrives, speaking a formal Queen's English, insisting on gentlemanly behavior, and teaching about the nobility of playing the game cricket, Carter Jones and his mother and three sisters are struggling with the first day of a new school year. Carter's life is not at all simple. His little brother Currier has died, his Army father is deployed overseas, and sixth grade is about to begin! Carter has a few good reasons to be angry, and his sharp, amusing exchanges with the demanding butler make that clear. He also needs to take a big new step in life, and the butler may be just the gentleman to help him do that. Gary Schmidt has a way of writing about loss and redemption that touched me. By the end of this uncommon novel, I felt a warm sense of connection with its characters.

— Tim McCarthy


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.

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 ultimately, when his burden of grief and anger from the past can no longer be ignored, Carter learns that a burden becomes lighter when it is shared.

Sparkling with humor, this insightful and compassionate story will resonate with readers who have confronted secrets of their own.

About the Author

Gary D. Schmidt is the best-selling author of Pay Attention, Carter Jones; Orbiting Jupiter; the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy; the Newbery Honor book The Wednesday Wars; and Okay for Now. He is a professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Visit him online at

Praise For…

"Schmidt gracefully weaves together the humor of school, siblings, and a dachshund with a delicate digestive system with deeper themes of family connection, disappointment, anger, and grief. The result is wonderfully impressive and layered."--Kirkus, STARRED review

"Schmidt, author of the celebrated Wednesday Wars, strikes gold again with this emotionally complex character who learns to navigate change and disappointment, and, more important, how to receive help."--School Library Journal, STARRED review
Product Details
ISBN: 9780544790858
ISBN-10: 0544790855
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication Date: February 5th, 2019
Pages: 224
Language: English