The Next Great Paulie Fink
The Next Great Paulie Fink

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Annotation: Led by new student Caitlyn, seventh-graders at a tiny rural school in Vermont create a reality-show inspired competition to determine who will replace the school's legendary class clown, Paulie Fink.
Catalog Number: #174345
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Hot Title Hot Title
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 360 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-316-38088-1 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-3676-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-316-38088-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-3676-3
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018032813
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
A reluctant newcomer in a small Vermont town, Caitlyn joins 10 other seventh-graders at the Mitchell School, which resembles a haunted house. Though initially uncomfortable among her classmates, who often reminisce about Paulie Fink, a former student and legendary prankster, Caitlyn comes to enjoy mentoring a kindergartener and running a secret class contest to find "the next great Paulie Fink." When she discovers that, with reduced revenues, Mitchell may be forced to close, Caitlyn realizes how much her quirky new school matters to her. Interspersed with frequent statements from classmates, teachers, and the principal, Caitlyn's first-person narrative places her at the story's emotional center, while an ensemble cast of individuals revolves around her and ultimately supports Caitlyn in becoming her own person. Though the pacing seems slow initially, the story becomes more engaging as Caitlyn begins to find her way. Gradually realizing that she feels remorse for bullying a classmate at her old school, she becomes an increasingly sympathetic character. A change of pace for Benjamin, who wrote The Thing about Jellyfish (2015).
Publishers Weekly
A wildly imaginative but never mean-spirited prankster, Paulie Fink was the life of Mitchell School. When he doesn-t appear on the first day of seventh grade, his classmates (called the -Originals,- since they are the school-s inaugural class) are bereft and largely ignore new-girl Caitlyn. Missing her old friends, play-by-the-rules Caitlyn scoffs at her classmates- eccentricities and those of the easygoing school, located in an old Vermont mansion whose lawn boasts dilapidated statues of gods and where goats trim the overgrown soccer field. To -pull Paulie back to us,- the Originals stage a reality TV-style competition to -find someone to play the role of Paulie. Someone whose official job it is to make school... memorable,- and they recruit Caitlyn to concoct challenges that reflect Paulie-s spirit. Benjamin (The Thing About Jellyfish) adroitly fleshes out her witty premise-and Paulie-s charismatic personality-through Caitlyn-s narration, interviews with Originals and administrators, and reflections on the ancient Greek beliefs taught in class. Genuinely original, the novel offers thoughtful perspectives on friendship, accepting change, and the many rewarding guises of storytelling, as well as a fully gratifying ending that the characters don-t see coming. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Starting at a new middle school can be a horrifying experience for anyone.Seventh-grader Caitlyn finds it harder than she ever imagined. For one thing, she's expected to help take care of the goats—and the kindergartners. Plus, none of her new classmates appear to play by the same social rules as her old middle school. Instead of trying to be cool, everyone at Mitchell stands out, and they do it on purpose. Even a kid who's no longer there stands out. When Paulie Fink, legendary for his pranks, doesn't return for seventh grade, his old classmates miss him so much they decide to hold a contest to name the next great Paulie Fink. Caitlyn, as the most objective person in the class, serves as organizer, judge, and jury. But by the time the next great Paulie Fink is named, Caitlyn understands that it's far more than one person they're trying to save. A story with massive heart, Benjamin's follow-up to The Thing About Jellyfish (2015) proves this writer's incredible wit, charm, and ability to navigate deep questions while tapping directly into the middle school mindset. The novel is rare for the ease with which it combines ancient Greek studies with modern-day issues such as bullying and change, helped along by a delightful multiracial cast. Diversity is communicated mostly via naming convention; Caitlyn seems to be default white.A book to make readers think, question, reach, laugh, and strive harder. (Fiction. 9-14)
Word Count: 62,591
Reading Level: 4.9
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.9 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 500764 / grade: Middle Grades

In this highly anticipated second novel by the author of the award-winning, bestselling The Thing About Jellyfish, being the new kid at school isn't easy, especially when you have to follow in the footsteps of a classroom prankster like Paulie Fink.

When Caitlyn Breen enters the tiny Mitchell School in rural Mitchell, Vermont, she is a complete outsider: the seventh grade has just ten other kids, and they've known each other since kindergarten. Her classmates are in for a shock of their own: Paulie Fink--the class clown, oddball, troublemaker, and evil genius--is gone this year.

As stories of Paulie's hijinks unfold, his legend builds, until they realize there's only one way to fill the Paulie-sized hole in their class. They'll find their next great Paulie Fink through a reality-show style competition, to be judged by the only objective person around: Caitlyn, who never even met Paulie Fink. Who was this kid, anyway--prankster, performance artist, philosopher, or fool? Caitlyn's quest to understand Paulie is about to teach her more about herself than she ever imagined.

Told via multiple voices, interviews, and other documents, The Next Great Paulie Fink is a lighthearted yet surprisingly touching exploration of how we build up and tear down our own myths...about others, our communities, and ourselves.


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