Jumping the Scratch

( 10 )

Overview

Jamie Reardon has always heard that bad things come in threes. So after his cat, Mister, dies, his father leaves, and his aunt Sapphy has an accident that causes her memory to develop a skip, Jamie hopes his life will go back to being as normal as cornflakes. But unfortunately there's one more bad thing in store for Jamie—something he'd give anything to be able to forget—and this one leaves him feeling like a stranger to himself. Jamie tries in vain to find the magic trigger that will help Sapphy's memory jump ...

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Overview

Jamie Reardon has always heard that bad things come in threes. So after his cat, Mister, dies, his father leaves, and his aunt Sapphy has an accident that causes her memory to develop a skip, Jamie hopes his life will go back to being as normal as cornflakes. But unfortunately there's one more bad thing in store for Jamie—something he'd give anything to be able to forget—and this one leaves him feeling like a stranger to himself. Jamie tries in vain to find the magic trigger that will help Sapphy's memory jump the scratch, but in the end it's Aunt Sapphy who, along with a curious girl named Audrey Krouch, helps Jamie unravel the mysteries of memory and jump the scratch in his own life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It has been a rough year for 11-year-old Jamie Reardon. In short order, his cat, Mister, died, his father ran off with another woman, and the boy and his mother moved to a trailer park to live with his aunt Sapphy who, because of an accident at the cherry factory where she used to work, has lost her short-term memory and needs them to take care of her. Jamie is also suffering from being the new kid in school and bearing the brunt of a bully's attention. But worst of all is the dark secret that sits deep in Jamie's heart, a secret that he can't share with anyone, and that he would give anything to forget. Spinella brings a lovely sensitive quality to his narration of Weeks's novel, which is reminiscent of the old 1980s television series The Wonder Years, as an older, wiser Jamie looks back at an important, troubling and powerful earlier time in his life. Spinella's insightful performance brings notes of pre-teen innocence and angst to his characterization of Jamie, and is sure to connect with young listeners. Ages 10-up.(May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
After being hit on the head with a big metal pipe at the Cheery Cherry canning factory, Aunt Sapphy does not have a short-term memory. Her nephew, eleven-year-old Jamie Reardon, is trying to find the trigger that will help her to "jump the scratch" in the record of her mind so that she can move forward and stop playing the same line over and over. Unfortunately, helping Aunt Sapphy is not Jamie's only concern. His father recently abandoned the family and a car hit Jamie's cat. As if that were not enough, Jamie possesses a big secret that he is too scared and ashamed to talk to anyone about. This story barely skims the surface of the many emotional and life-impacting events that Jamie experiences; still, it is told with sensitivity and warmth. Jamie is a believable character who reacts to these major events just as many other typical young adults would. He is an intelligent and caring boy who manages to maintain a sense of humor despite his "bad luck." This book is well written and enjoyable to read, in spite of the dark secret that is revealed in the end. 2006, Laura Geringer Books/HarperCollins Publishers., and Ages 10 up.
—Denise Daley
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-In Sarah Weeks's novel (Laura Geringer Book, 2006), 11-year-old Jamie Reardon can't believe how his life has unraveled over a short period of time. Just a short time ago, he lived in Michigan with both of his parents and his cat, Mister, and life was "as normal as cornflakes." In less than a year, Mister was killed in an accident, his father left home with another woman, and he and his mom moved to Wondrous Acres, a trailer park, to help his Aunt Sapphy who lost her short term memory in an accident. And things get even worse when he's not accepted in his new school and is bullied. In addition, Jamie must avoid Old Gray, the manager of the trailer park, because of an unspeakable (sensitively revealed) incident that took place on Christmas Eve. Jamie spends his days trying to avoid Old Gray and helping Aunt Sapphy to find a trigger that will spark her memory, or jump the scratch. In a satisfying ending, Jamie finds his "trigger" in the friendships he forms with an author who visits his classroom, an eccentric classmate, and a resident of the trailer park. Actor Stephen Spinella does a fine job narrating the story from the point of view of a young man remembering an important event in his life. His reading is done with great empathy, and he defines the supporting cast of characters with appropriate voice inflections. A must for fans of Jack Gantos and Kate DiCamillo.-Jo-Ann Carhart, East Islip Public Library, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Jamie's aunt has a strange kind of amnesia following a severe head injury. Jamie likens it to a needle stuck in a record scratch, repeating a tiny piece of music over and over again. Aunt Sapphy needs to remember, but all Jamie wants to do is forget. Something worse than his parents' divorce, his pet's death and coming to live in a trailer park, is torturing him. He avoids certain areas and people and has difficulty concentrating. He reluctantly accepts the friendship of an eccentric classmate who begins the healing process, but finally he and Sapphy help each other recover when his nightmare screams bring her into the present and he is able to tell her that he has been molested. A powerful story of a child's pain. (Fiction. 10+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060541118
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 689,907
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Weeks is an author, singer, and songwriter. Her many books for young readers include the My First I Can Read Book Splish, Splash!, illustrated by Ashley Wolff, and the I Can Read Books Mac and Cheese, Baa-Choo!, Pip Squeak, and Drip, Drop, all illustrated by Jane Manning. She lives in upstate New York.

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Read an Excerpt

Jumping the Scratch


By Sarah Weeks

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Sarah Weeks
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060541105

Chapter One

I have a pretty good memory, but it's got a mind of its own. It has never been very interested in holding on to anything having to do with numbers or spelling or ways of knowing when it's appropriate to use a semicolon. It's impossible to predict what it will decide is important. Sometimes whole years of my life have whizzed by and very little of what's happened has stuck. But there is one year I remember in such vivid detail, I sometimes feel as though I'm still in the middle of it even though it all happened a long time ago.

I was eleven years old and in the fifth grade at Pine Tree Elementary when Arthur came to visit. I didn't see what the big fuss was about. Just because some guy named Arthur was coming to our class, we were supposed to wear our best clothes and be on our best behavior and not shout out and a lot of other things I didn't bother to listen to when Miss Miller told us about his coming. I didn't listen to much of anything she said that year. I wasn't interested, and I didn't care. Looking back on it now, I guess that might have had something to do with why she was always yelling at me.

"Are you listening, James? Best behavior," Miss Miller said, giving me the big fisheye.

My name is not James; it's Jamie. It says soright on my birth certificate, but I never bothered to tell Miss Miller that. Somehow it seemed right for her to call me by the wrong name. She didn't have any idea who I was.

That day, while she talked on and on about Arthur's visit, I did what I always did: reached back with my thumbs and plugged my earholes closed. But Miss Miller's voice found its way inside my head somehow anyway, like smoke curling under a locked door. Arthur this. Arthur that. I pressed my thumbs down harder, then let go. Open, closed, open, closed, faster and faster until it chopped up the words like cabbage for slaw and made it sound like she was speaking Chinese. I just kept doing that until she was done talking and it was finally time for us to go home.

I hated everything about that year in Miss Miller's class. We'd moved to Traverse City in November, two months after the school year had begun, and by the time spring rolled around, I still hadn't made a single friend. It was my own fault. It's hard for people to like you when you can't stand yourself.

"Best clothes," Miss Miller had said. That was a joke. I had two kinds of clothes at home: clean and dirty. I didn't plan on telling my mother what Miss Miller had said. I knew she would just say, "Make do, Jamie." She said that all the time after we moved in with my aunt Sapphy, at the Wondrous Acres trailer park on the south side of town.

Wondrous Acres was anything but wondrous. Ours was the fifth trailer in a line of fifteen single-wides that sat on a flat strip of asphalt baking in the sun or rattling in the wind depending on the season. Some of the trailers had names over their doors instead of numbers, Tin Heaven and Dolly's Spot. Ours was just plain old number five, but if it had been mine to name, I would have called it Make Do.

We had a real house back when we lived in Battle Creek. I had a room of my own and, best of all, a cat named Mister. Mister was just a stray, somebody else's cat that had run away, but after I fed him tuna fish and milk, he didn't run away from me, so my mom said she guessed he was mine. Mister was the first friend I had who liked me best. He didn't like anybody else to pick him up or even touch him. He slept on my pillow at night. I'd lie in the dark, rubbing him behind his soft black ears, telling him everything, while he lay there purring until I was all talked out. I can close my eyes and, to this day, still recall the way Mister smelled behind his ears.

One night Mister didn't come home. I called and called for him, but he didn't come.

"Probably out looking for some female companionship," my dad told me. "Can't blame a fella for wanting a little of that now, can you?" Then he winked at me and laughed until his breath ran out and he had to cough. My mother shot him one of her looks, but she didn't say anything.

With some people you can tell when they're mad, because they yell at you and say things they try to take back later on, but my mother is the opposite. The madder she gets, the less she says. I don't remember her saying much of anything that whole last year in Battle Creek.

The next morning when Mister still hadn't come back, I went out to try to find him. It didn't take long. He was lying on his side out in the ditch beside the road in front of my house. At first I thought he was sleeping, but when I picked him up, I knew right away that he was dead. I sat there by the road for a while, holding him and telling him how sorry I was that I hadn't been there to protect him. Then I took him inside, wrapped him up in a blue and white checkered dish towel, and put him in a shoe box along with a couple of cans of tuna. I got a shovel out of the garage, dug a hole, and buried him out in the backyard. Then I cried so hard, my eyes swelled shut and it looked like somebody had punched me in the face.

Continues...


Excerpted from Jumping the Scratch by Sarah Weeks Copyright © 2006 by Sarah Weeks. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 2, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius" for TeensReadToo.com

    JUMPING THE SCRATCH is best described as a story about forgetting. For eleven-year-old Jamie, it's about forgetting an event that has traumatized him. For Sapphy, his aunt, it's about forgetting anything and everything that happens to her on a daily basis. But let's back up just a little bit... <BR/><BR/>Jamie Reardon has moved to Traverse City, Michigan, from Battle Creek, where he once had a real home, a mom and dad to always fix whatever was wrong, a cat named Mister who knew how to listen, and a normal-as-cornflakes life. But then Mister died, and his dad ran off with a cashier from the MicroMart, and his Aunt Sapphy was injured in a work-related accident. So that year, during fifth grade, Jamie and his mom moved in with Aunt Sapphy in her trailer at Wondrous Acres, and there was no big Thanksgiving dinner or sparkling Christmas tree. There was only Aunt Sapphy, who got hit on the head by a falling pipe during her shift at the Cheery Cherry canning factory, and now can't form any short-term memories. There's Jamie's mother, who took a third-shift job at the same cherry factory because it was the only place hiring. There's Marge, the home nursing aide, who doesn't like anyone, especially Aunt Sapphy. And then there's Jamie, who changed sometime around Christmas, and yet no one seems to notice. <BR/><BR/>While Jamie is busy dodging the verbal bullets of his teacher, Miss Miller, and the crazy questions of Audrey Krouch, a fellow student who also lives in Wondrous Acres, he's also trying to forget. Forget what happened on Christmas Eve, with Old Gray, the guy who sits in the office at the trailer park. It's funny how memories work. While Jamie works hard to find the magic trigger to give Sapphy back her memories, he wants nothing more than to erase his own. <BR/><BR/>It's easy to sympathize with Jamie, especially with the careless adults that surround him in JUMPING THE SCRATCH. Although I would have liked the story to be longer and more filled out, this is a quick, emotional read. It's definitely interesting to watch Jamie's transformation, to read about the intriguing Aunt Sapphy, and to see into the heart and mind of the wonderfully odd Audrey.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    Love thi book

    This book is a breath taking adventure. From the first word you read in this book to the last this great.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2006

    Courtesy of Teens Read Too

    JUMPING THE SCRATCH is best described as a story about forgetting. For eleven-year-old Jamie, it's about forgetting an event that has traumatized him. For Sapphy, his aunt, it's about forgetting anything and everything that happens to her on a daily basis. But let's back up just a little bit... Jamie Reardon has moved to Traverse City, Michigan, from Battle Creek, where he once had a real home, a mom and dad to always fix whatever was wrong, a cat named Mister who knew how to listen, and a normal-as-cornflakes life. But then Mister died, and his dad ran off with a cashier from the MicroMart, and his Aunt Sapphy was injured in a work-related accident. So that year, during fifth grade, Jamie and his mom moved in with Aunt Sapphy in her trailer at Wondrous Acres, and there was no big Thanksgiving dinner or sparkling Christmas tree. There was only Aunt Sapphy, who got hit on the head by a falling pipe during her shift at the Cheery Cherry canning factory, and now can't form any short-term memories. There's Jamie's mother, who took a third-shift job at the same cherry factory because it was the only place hiring. There's Marge, the home nursing aide, who doesn't like anyone, especially Aunt Sapphy. And then there's Jamie, who changed sometime around Christmas, and yet no one seems to notice. While Jamie is busy dodging the verbal bullets of his teacher, Miss Miller, and the crazy questions of Audrey Krouch, a fellow student who also lives in Wondrous Acres, he's also trying to forget. Forget what happened on Christmas Eve, with Old Gray, the guy who sits in the office at the trailer park. It's funny how memories work. While Jamie works hard to find the magic trigger to give Sapphy back her memories, he wants nothing more than to erase his own. It's easy to sympathize with Jamie, especially with the careless adults that surround him in JUMPING THE SCRATCH. Although I would have liked the story to be longer and more filled out, this is a quick, emotional read. It's definitely interesting to watch Jamie's transformation, to read about the intriguing Aunt Sapphy, and to see into the heart and mind of the wonderfully odd Audrey.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2013

    ***Trigger warning: this review contains information about sexua

    ***Trigger warning: this review contains information about sexual assault that may be upsetting to survivors***

    This was a hard book to listen to because it was so real. Because it's a kid's book, there are no gory details (thank goodness) about what happened to Jamie, but it's painfully clear. Well, at least to an adult. I don't have 8- to 12-year-old children, so I'm not sure how quickly they'd pick up on the molestation.

    I worry about how to talk to my kids about sexual predators. I feel sick to my stomach at the thought of someone hurting either of them, but how do you bring up such a difficult subject? Adults tend to forget about what they knew as children; I knew about &quot;bad touching&quot; when I was little. We were taught by our parents, our teachers, and our daycare providers. But as parents? We don't want to expose our children to such an awful part of life. We want to protect them! Shield them! Make sure no harm comes to them!

    This book is a great way to help explain what happens when a child is molested, why he acted the way he did, and how he'll deal with it in the future. I am adding it to the list of books to read with my kids in a few years.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Book Report Book Material

    This book was on one of my "must read" reading lists and it would be really good for a book report because it is a deep thinking type book. I would not recommend it if you want to sit down and read a good story. The end is also a little cheesey and predictable.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2007

    It was good and interesting

    this book wasnt the best ive read and was pretty predictable. But the book had a tremondous break through at the end. It really paid off at the end to here jaime finally say whats been bothering him.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted August 28, 2009

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    Posted July 15, 2014

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    Posted July 25, 2010

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    Posted September 27, 2009

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