Friday, January 18, 2019

Pay Attention, Carter Jones

Schmidt, Gary D. Pay Attention, Carter Jones
February 5th 2019 by Clarion Books
E ARC from 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, since he comes with a car and the family Jeep is on its last legs. Carter is dealing with the death of his brother, and trying to establish a place for himself in school. Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick is helpful in setting up a cricket team, so Carter is invited even though he is only in 6th grade. The butler also teaches Carter to drive, and lets him pilot the car on errands, even when his sisters are in the car. Carter's father doesn't appear to be coming home from Germany, and Carter contemplates a "bonding" trip the two took to Australia. In the end, we find out that Carter's father is not coming home, and that Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick has the chance to be with either Carter and his sisters or the father, and he choses to stay with Carter in the US.
Strengths: This had a lot of funny moments, like the opening before-school scene and Carter learning to drive. Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick is technically a "gentleman's gentleman" in the style of televisions Mr. Belvedere or Sebastian Cabot's Mr. French, and tries to get the children to behave properly. I did like the way he sent them off every day: "Make good decisions and remember who you are." It's nice to see Mr. Schmidt doing another contemporary fiction book; his most popular book in my library is First Boy (2005).
Weaknesses: A butler? Cricket? A family named after the Brontes with no explanation? Because of the situation with the father (pretty sure he had another entire family in Germany), I felt more information about the mother was needed, although I am not usually a fan of too much parental intrusion in novels. The situation with the brother was not necessary and changed this from a humorous novel into a more slow paced, depressing one. We have plenty of those, but not enough humorous ones.
What I really think: I loved Lorenzi's A Long Pitch Home about a boy moving from Pakistan and changing from cricket to baseball, but it doesn't circulate well. I'm debating.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to know there's someone else who remembers Mr. French!