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|Next great Paulie Fink|
Author: Benjamin, Ali
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.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.90
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 500764
Kirkus Reviews (+) (01/15/19)
School Library Journal (+) (02/01/19)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/04/19)
The Hornbook (00/05/19)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 02/01/2019 Gr 5–8—Caitlyn has spent her sixth grade year learning the rules of middle school survival, and, while not attaining "silver dollar" social status, has secured a place among the other shiny "quarters." When her mother gets a new job and they move to rural Vermont, Caitlyn must reconsider everything she thought she knew, including the social hierarchy and her place in it. First of all, the Mitchell school, housed in a ramshackle old estate, resembles a haunted mansion. The kids are assigned to care for a herd of goats that are grooming their soccer field and are expected to have lunch with assigned kindergarten buddies. Secondly, there are only 11 students in the entire seventh grade and they are in no way cool. Her classmates are devastated to learn that Paulie Fink, the legendary class prankster and creator of chaos, has not returned to Mitchell and they are too distraught to welcome Caitlyn. When the kids decide to hold a reality TV–type competition for the next great Paulie Fink, Caitlyn is chosen as the logical impartial arbiter. She uses oral histories and interviews to get to know her classmates as they demythologize this larger-than-life figure and learns a great deal about her own strengths in the process. Benjamin has crafted a smart, funny, and deeply felt coming of age story that middle schoolers will relate to and find themselves ruminating on. She incorporates allegories from the ancient Greeks to examine assumptions and to question one's place in the community and in the world. VERDICT A witty, tender, and utterly engaging modern school story that draws on the wisdom of the ages.—Luann Toth, School Library Journal - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 03/01/2019 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). - Copyright 2019 Booklist.