The Next Great Paulie Fink (Hardcover)

By Ali Benjamin

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316380881, 368pp.

Publication Date: April 16, 2019

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (3/31/2020)
Library Binding, Large Print (11/6/2019)
CD-Audio (4/16/2019)
Compact Disc (4/16/2019)

List Price: 16.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


In this acclaimed 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 legendary classroom prankster.

When Caitlyn Breen begins her disorienting new life at Mitchell School--where the students take care of real live goats and study long-dead philosophers, and where there are only ten other students in the entire seventh grade--it seems like nobody can stop talking about some kid named Paulie Fink.

Depending on whom you ask, Paulie was either a hilarious class clown, a relentless troublemaker, a hapless klutz, or an evil genius. One thing's for sure, though: The kid was totally legendary. Now he's disappeared, and Caitlyn finds herself leading a reality-show-style competition to find the school's next great Paulie Fink. With each challenge, Caitlyn struggles to understand a person she never met...but it's what she discovers about herself that most surprises her.

Told in multiple voices, interviews, and documents, this funny, thought-provoking novel from the bestselling author of The Thing About Jellyfish is a memorable exploration of what makes a hero--and if anyone, or anything, is truly what it seems.

About the Author

Ali Benjamin is a New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award Finalist for The Thing About Jellyfish, and the co-writer for HIV-positive teen Paige Rawl's coming-of-age memoir Positive as well as Tim Howard's national bestseller The Keeper. She lives near Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Praise For The Next Great Paulie Fink

Praise for The Next Great Paulie Fink:
A Parents Magazine 30 Best Kids' Books of 2019
A LAPL Best Books of 2019
A NYPL Best Books of 2019
A Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Books of 2019
A Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2019
A Publishers Weekly Most Anticipated Children's Book of Spring 2019
An Amazon Best Book of the Month for April 2019

"A funny and fast-paced romp."
The New York Times

* "A story with massive heart... A book to make readers think, question, reach, laugh, and strive harder."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "A witty, tender, and utterly engaging modern school story that draws on the wisdom of the ages."—School Library Journal, starred review

* "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."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "A beautiful, powerful novel about embracing one's own great self, even--or especially--in middle school."—Shelf Awareness, starred review

"Benjamin strikes a nice balance of
goofy, often physical comedy...with introspection...for a look at shifting middle-school identities and the strange chaos they bring."

"Takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery."—School Library Connection


"Wise and funny."—The Wall Street Journal

"A middle school story to top all middle school stories."
The Buffalo News

"An inspirational story about finding your place in an unfamiliar community and learning that normal is not always better."—The Denver Post

"Laugh-out-loud funny."—Horn Book

"You'll love this new favorite about being the new kid at school, and dealing with bullies, and becoming something different."—Romper

Praise for The Thing About Jellyfish:
A 2015 National Book Award Finalist
A New York Times Bestseller
An Indiebound Bestseller
An E.B. White Read-aloud Book Award Finalist
An Amazon Editor's Best Book of the 2015
A 2015 GoodReads Choice Award Finalist
An Amazon Editors' Fall Favorite Children's Book
A Booklist Top Ten First Novel of 2015
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2015

*"A painful story smartly told, Benjamin's first solo novel has appeal well beyond a middle school audience."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

*"Reminiscent of works by Jennifer L. Holm and Sharon Creech...a shining example of the highs and lows of early adolescence."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

*"Authentic and poignant...[a] superbly written, heartfelt novel."—School Library Journal, starred review

*"Clean, fluid writing that is highly accessible, yet rich with possibilities for discussion.... An uncommonly fine first novel."—Booklist, starred review

*"Just-right pacing, authentic voices and characters, beautifully crafted plot, and superb writing. Readers will find that this story lingers with them after the book is closed."—VOYA, starred review

"There are...a lot of children who might not only benefit from this book but also find themselves deeply moved by it."—New York Times Book Review

Conversation Starters from

1. Mags defines kleos as “Renown. Glory. Being remembered” (page 140). What qualities do you think make someone worthy of glory or renown? What are some examples of people who will be remembered? What would you want to be remembered for?

2. How does Caitlyn’s treatment of Anna Sprang influence your view of Caitlyn as a person? Why do you think Caitlyn treats Anna the way she does?

3. In order to navigate her daily life at school, Caitlyn creates many lists of rules. Discuss how these rules impact her. Do they help, hurt, or limit her? Do you have unwritten rules in your own life?

4. The chapters switch back and forth between Caitlyn’s perspective and the interviews she conducts with other characters. How do these two formats differ from each other? What kind of information does each format reveal?

5. What is the significance of the name the Originals? Is it appropriate? How do the Originals turn their uniqueness into strengths? Is Caitlyn able to do this, and if so, how?

6. What are some of the differences between Caitlyn’s old school and The Mitchell School? Are there any parts that stay the same between the two schools?

7. How does the story Caitlyn tells Kiera about the girl “who felt too soft on the inside” reflect Caitlyn’s own experiences (page 275)?

8. Henry tells Caitlyn that “Back in ancient Greece, there wasn’t a single source that told the whole story of any one god, or anything else, for that matter” (page 332). What are some examples of characters not telling the whole story about an event or character?

9. How does Paulie’s letter change your perception of him? How does the way he describes himself compare to how his classmates view him?

10. Do you think you can ever really know what someone else is going through? How can your assumptions about someone else’s life impact them? How do your assumptions about others limit yourself?