Robbie is counting down the days.


“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?


  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens, starred selection 2021
  • Winner, Forest of Reading Red Maple Award 2022
  • Short-listed, Rocky Mountain Book Award (RMBA) 2022
  • Nominated, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards - Young Adult / Middle Reader 2021
  • Winner, Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice Awards - Snow Willow 2022
  • Winner, The Governor General’s Literary Awards (GGBooks) - Young People’s Literature Text 2020


“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

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

- Kirkus Reviews

“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

“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

★ “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

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

- Sal's Fiction Addiction

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