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.
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.