The Next Great Paulie Fink
by Ali Benjamin (2019)
An Intermediate and Middle School selection.
“Hi. I’m Caitlyn. I’m the new kid here at Mitchell. I like when everything’s in its place because that’s how I know I have a place. I do not like when kids stare at me, making me feel as they can see right through me, all the way to my softest insides. So this, right here, is probably the most horrifying moment of my life.
“Oh, and those ten kids who are staring at me right now? This is the Mitchell School’s entire seventh grade, right here — me, plus these ten strangers, who seem to despise me already, even as they’re seeing me for the very first time.”
Poor Caitlyn, she has no idea what’s about to hit her!
We are excited to include The Next Great Paulie Fink in our list of middle school offerings as a tale of angst, regret, redemption, and an abundance of hilarious pranks cobbled together in the life of seventh grader, Caitlyn Breen.
Caitlyn has been dropped into a tiny, unassuming, and unconventional mansion-turned-school. She begrudgingly becomes a judge of the school’s reality-tv style competition to find the next middle school legend when their original icon mysteriously disappears. She’s living in the shadow of Paulie Fink but doesn’t even know who he is…or who she really is!
Readers will howl at Paulie’s legendary antics (food war with the principal! pizza delivery to school! eating mayo straight from the jar!) as they try to conjure up their own.
Author Ali Benjamin allows several of Caitlyn’s classmates to narrate Paulie’s tale through prose, texts, emails, and interviews; providing an opportunity to highlight and try different writing techniques.
With help from ancient Greeks (don’t be scared…it works!), William Shakespeare, and a herd of goats, readers will contemplate and discuss the rules for life in middle school and perhaps learn along with Caitlyn that sometimes life is better when you don’t play by the rules.