cover image The Next Great Paulie Fink

The Next Great Paulie Fink

Ali Benjamin. Little, Brown, $16.99 ISBN 978-0-316-38088-1

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. [em](Apr.) [/em]