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Children's Fiction Homelessness & Poverty

The King of Jam Sandwiches

by (author) Eric Walters

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
Aug 2020
Homelessness & Poverty, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Depression & Mental Illness
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Aug 2020
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2020
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 8
  • Reading age: 9 to 12


“Tug at the heartstrings and tickle the funny bone…This warm tale is definitely one for the keeper shelves. Highly recommended.”—School Library Journal, starred review

Thirteen-year-old Robbie leads a double life. It's just Robbie and his dad, but no one knows that his dad isn't like most parents. Sometimes he wakes Robbie up in the middle of the night to talk about dying. Sometimes he just leaves without telling Robbie where he’s going. Once when Robbie was younger, he was gone for more than a week. Robbie was terrified of being left alone but even more scared of telling anyone in case he was put into foster care. No one can know. Until one day when Robbie has to show the tough new girl, Harmony, around school. Their first meeting ends horribly and she punches Robbie in the face. But eventually, they come to realize that they have a lot more in common than they thought. Can Robbie's new friend be trusted to keep his secret?

About the author

Eric Walters is the author of many acclaimed and bestselling novels for children and young adults. His novels have won numerous awards, including the Silver Birch, Blue Heron, Red Maple, Snow Willow, Ruth Schwartz, and Tiny Torgi, and have received honours from the Canadian Library Association Book Awards and UNESCO's international award for Literature in Service of Tolerance.

Eric lives in Mississauga with his wife, Anita, and three children, Christina, Nicholas, and Julia. When not writing or touring across the country speaking to school groups, Eric spends time playing or watching soccer and basketball, or playing the saxophone.

To find out more about Eric and his novels, or to arrange for him to speak at your school, visit his website at

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Eric Walters' profile page


  • Short-listed, Rocky Mountain Book Award
  • Winner, Forest of Reading Red Maple Award
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens, starred selection
  • Short-listed, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award
  • Short-listed, Snow Willow Award
  • Winner, Governor General's Literary Awards

Editorial Reviews

“You’ll cheer our hero on while your heart aches for him. This is an original and deeply moving personal journey.”

Teresa Toten, Governor General’s Literary Award–winning author of <i>The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B</i>

“A superb middle grade novel that focuses on the effects of poverty and mental illness on children and their families. Not only is it a realistic portrayal, but its being written in a nonjudgmental and compassionate way allows children to better understand a very serious topic. Highly Recommended.”

CM: Canadian Review of Materials

“Narration unfolds with wry, self-deprecating humor...An entertaining journey.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Realistic, compelling and often heartbreaking, and told with compassion. It's a keeper!”

Sal's Fiction Addiction

★ “Tug at the heartstrings and tickle the funny bone…This warm tale is definitely one for the keeper shelves. Highly recommended.”

School Library Journal, starred review

“A character-driven story that will teach you to never judge a person by their appearance, but instead remind you to keep an open mind and more importantly, an open heart.”

Canadian Children's Book News

“Harrowing and heartfelt.”

Kenneth Oppel, award-winning author of the Silverwing trilogy

“This book is perfect for middle and high school libraries. It is one of Walters’ best as much for its topic, characters, plot and theme as for its portrayal of mental disorders and alcoholism.”

Must Read Literature

The King of Jam Sandwiches pulls us into the unforgettable friendship of hard-working Robbie and tough-as-nails Harmony in an exceptionally honest survival story that is also compulsively readable and emotionally gripping. Walters has written a heart-wrenching novel about what it is like to grow up amidst poverty and mental illness, one that speaks to contemporary young readers and offers them hope.”

Governor General's Literary Award Peer assessment committee: Catherine Austen, Cary Fagan, Shenaaz Nanji

Other titles by Eric Walters

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