The Next Great Paulie Fink

by Ali Benjamin

As the school year begins, Caitlyn enters the seventh grade classroom in her new... read more

As the school year begins, Caitlyn enters the seventh grade classroom in her new small town to applause. It turns out her classmates were hoping she was Paulie Fink, whose reputation for flaunting the rules and making every day interesting grows throughout a fall in which he’s a no-show. When the kids decide to hold a reality-TV-inspired competition to decide who will carry on Paulie’s legacy, Caitlyn agrees to judge the search for “The Next Great Paulie Fink,” even though she’s beginning to wonder if any of them really knew Paulie as a friend. Yet the legend of Paulie is no stranger than anything else at the school, which is housed in an old mansion, keeps goats, and gives teachers leave to be creative. Most unusual of all? The kids genuinely like one another, not a clique or bully in sight. This isn’t, Caitlyn tells them, the real world. As someone who made another girl’s life miserable at her old school, she should know. Paulie’s reputation notwithstanding, Caitlyn, who is white, discovers reality is what you chose to make it, and daring to care makes all the difference in a story full of humor and moments of poignancy, featuring characters both entertaining and insightful. (Ages 9–12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2020

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