Students Pay Tribute to Beloved, Slain Chef in New Gary Paulsen book

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St. Philip's Academy featured in Crush, a new book by Gary Paulsen, the acclaimed writer of young-adult fiction such as Hatchet.

Paulsen donated the rights to name a character in Crush at a fundraising auction for Gilda’s Club of New York City. The winner was Betsy Buell, a volunteer who serves as librarian at St. Philip’s Academy in Newark, a school that raises money to subsidize the tuition for urban students. Betsy chose the last name Tucker to honor her mother and left the first name up to her students at the school. Unanimously, they chose "JC" to memorialize St. Philip's beloved chef who was killed the year before by a hit-and-run driver as he crossed the street.

Moved by Betsy's and her students' tributes, Paulsen ended up creating two characters. One is Betsy Putnam (her maiden name) and the other is JC Tucker. Paulsen went further, dedicating the entire book to the Students of St. Philip’s Academy, Betsy Buell and Gilda’s Club of New York City.

Paulsen’s editor Wendy Lamb had the signed dedication page sent over as a surprise to St. Philip’s Academy, where it now hangs in the library.

Crush (Wendy Lamb Books) is on sale starting May 8th 2012.

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Karen Sangiacomo
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