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What Jamie Saw

What Jamie Saw

3.8 11
by Carolyn Coman, Handprint

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Boyds Mills Press publishes a wide range of high-quality fiction and nonfiction picture books, chapter books, novels, and nonfiction


Boyds Mills Press publishes a wide range of high-quality fiction and nonfiction picture books, chapter books, novels, and nonfiction

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a starred review of this "heartwrenching" 1996 Newbery Honor book about escaping domestic violence, PW said, "This work seems to spring directly from Coman's heart into the reader's own." Ages 9-up. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Jamie, his baby sister, and his mother (a battered wife) struggle to rebuild and reshape their lives. From the gripping opening until the very last page, readers share the real fear, anger, and anguish that haunt Jamie and his mother. Their ability to face their fears and thus begin to reconstruct their lives brings this short, but powerful story to closure. Newbery Honor book.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-With wrenching simplicity and mesmerizing imagery, Coman articulates nine-year-old Jamie's baffled, stream-of-consciousness observations of a violent act that robs him of his security, but not his innocence. Awakened in the middle of the night by some primal sense of alarm, the sleep-disoriented boy watches his stepfather reach into his baby sister's crib and throw her across the room. And then he watches his mother step into the bedroom doorway and catch her flying baby. Patty deposits her pajama-clad children into the safety of her rusty old Buick, collects the bare necessities, and leaves. With the help of her friend Earl, Jamie's teacher, and even her mother-in-law, Patty finds her way back to work and into a support group for battered wives. In a trailer out in the middle of nowhere, she and Jamie tough it out, slowly reinventing their lives. Revealed through the boy's clear, unprejudiced eye, characters, though rough and uneducated, are not stereotyped. It is Jamie who is most delicately and lovingly wrought. His love of magic tricks, illusion, and sleight of hand sustains him through the bad times. Shocking in its simple narration and child's-eye view, What Jamie Saw is a bittersweet miracle in understated language and forthright hopefulness.-Alice Casey Smith, Sayreville War Memorial High School, NJ
Susan Dove Lempke
From its opening sentence, Coman's latest grabs your attention: "When Jamie saw him throw the baby, saw Van throw the little baby, saw Van throw his little sister Nin, when Jamie saw Van throw his baby sister Nin, then they moved." Coman captures in lyrical prose the rush of feelings third-grader Jamie experiences when his mother, having successfully caught the baby, packs them in the car and flees to a friend's trailer. Jamie likes the small space, where, "if someone went flying," they wouldn't go far, and there are no sharp edges, but when he and his mother venture out to a school carnival and think they spot Van, their fear overwhelms them. Fortunately, Jamie's teacher spies them crouching, and when Jamie misses more than a week of school, Mrs. Desrocher lends them the support they need to reenter the normal world. Coman depicts with visceral clarity the reactions of both Jamie and his mother, capturing their jitteriness and the love that carries them through the moments when they take their fear out on each other. Coman admirably overcomes the technical difficulties she has set for herself in beginning her novel with such an intense scene, and her conclusion, with Van deflated by the unified front Jamie and his mother present, satisfies and feels truthful. Jamie, with his acute observations and ability to completely immerse himself in the moment, is a memorable character children will recognize as being just like them.

Product Details

Highlights Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.25(h) x (d)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

Meet the Author

Carolyn Coman is the author of What Jamie Saw, winner of a Newbery Honor, among other highly acclaimed novels. She lives in New Hampshire.

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What Jamie Saw 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story didn't really develop much and just sort of was. There aren't a lot of details and thus it's a quick read with few story climaxes... not one of my best reads...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
What Jamie Saw by Carolyn Coman speaks of a boy in which he lives his life through struggles. His life's story begins with the spliting of his parents, when Van (his stepdad), throws Nin (sister) across the room in anger. Thankfully, his mother catches Nin and they leave the house to go to Jamie's mom's friend - Earl. Earl provides them with food and shelter given a trailer to live in, Jamie and his mom try to act as if nothing happened. They live in fear for weeks and months. One day, Jamies teacher comes by the house to talk to his mom. The teacher trys to become closer to Jamie and trys to get him to come back to school, saying that Jamie will be safe with her. Jamie's mom yields to the teacher wishes and Jamie starts to go to school again. One day, while his mother is gone, Van comes to the trailer where Jamie lives. He trys to come back into the family, but Jamies mother returns home and refuses his apology and wanting to be accepted again. Van, realizing nothing would change her mind, leaves and there, the story ends.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What Jamie Saw by Carolyn Coman is one of the best books i have ever read. The climax of the book was right off the bat but it just didn't stop there it kept on rising it was so fasinated. That is the one thing I love about books it keeps me very interested. The conclusion was phenominal when Van came back. At that time patty just left to get cranberries for the dinner and Jamie was all alone with Nin and when he saw Van he grabed Nin and ran in the back bed room and put his sister on his bed and he hide under the bed. I could actually feel his heart beat in mine as if i were really there. I would have never expected that to be the ending of the book. the best thing about this book was that I can relate to the same thing that Patty went through with Van. The emotions and the position of it i too have been there with my mom and I. it also follows a story line about a mother and her two kids leave an abusive boyfriend that threw a baby across the room. and when they left they went to Patties best friends house Earl who jamie loved. But that night had damaged Jamie for life. Now he thinks more deeply and more opened. The majic i belived was a symbolism of his happiness. it was what he would go to when he was sad or depressed and learn and look at the majic. the author writting this book knew how to describe and put me in the moment each time i would open this book. the book kept me intrested up to the end of the book that is why i would have to say this is one of the best books i have read in a long time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was good, about a boy and his mother running from an abusive boyfriend. With a great friend that help them throught out the whole book. At the end Patty, the mother, has a strong personality and tells off Van. Although I thought that they could put a little more action into it. But still was a good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I started reading What Jamie Saw and found it to be extremely depressing. I'm the type of person who rarely gives up on a book, so I kept reading in hopes that things would get better and everything would be alright. It didn't. It was depressing from page one on. If you like happy, upbeat books, I recomend you to NOT read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think 'What Jamie Saw' by Cardyn Coman is a bad book, because there is violence when Van throw's Nin out like the garbage on sunday's. Van is angry and depressed like he was drinking alcohol. The narrator Jamie is lonely and quiet as the wall in an old abandoned house. Jamie's family has trouble with living . Like things to eat, and clothes to wear. They have problems with finding some where to live. Jamie and his family don't really have a fatherly figure in their lives. The don't even have enough money to get their car fixed, because his mom has no job. Jamie doesn't really use his magic much, because he don't want any body to know about his giftof magic. I don't seehow some one could be so close to them, when they don't go out much or not being social around others because they seem poor. Jamie should his magic on Van when he Throw's Nin out the window and his mom catches her. Luckily she was walking by at that moment, it is like it was ment to be. When his mom goes out andfinds a good man that will love and protect her and watch over her kids when she need it. It would make Jamie and Nin's life better than ever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This tale is engaging and convincing at the same time. A good example is when the author tells how Van throws Jamie's baby sister Nin into the hallway wall. Jamie, the main character, is always active. The author develops the characters so well. He and his family live in a smelly, noisy trailer park. It seems you are there the description is so vivid. What Jamie Saw is smooth, makes since, is believable and fun. Personally I think that this book is phenomenal.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think What Jamie Saw is a novel about feelings, courage, family, and cooperation. When Van threw Nin like football. Patty had so many feeling for her daughter Nin that Patty caught her in seconds. Patty, Jamie (Patty's son), and Nin moved to Earl's for a while. Earl moved them to a trailer in the middle of nowhere. I think What Jamie Saw does deserve a Newbery Honor Award. If you like family stories you'll like this story.