cover image Five, Six, Seven, Nate!

Five, Six, Seven, Nate!

Tim Federle. Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4424-4693-9

This sequel to Federle’s charming debut, Better Nate Than Ever, finds 13-year-old Nate Foster with a part on Broadway in E.T.: The Musical. Arriving from small-town Pennsylvania, Nate is ready to have his horizons expanded, but not every new experience delights: power struggles and personality clashes add pressure to the fast-tracked rehearsal schedule. (The territory disputes remind Nate of a “junior high school cafeteria but with more glitter.”) He must also make peace with his own diminishing role: the choreographers have no use for a pudgy kid who can’t dance, and it turns out Nate isn’t E.T.’s understudy, he’s E.T.’s understudy’s understudy. Readers learn a bit more about Aunt Heidi, but Nate’s parents remain offstage, and best friend Libby appears mostly on Skype, often with bad news about her mother’s health. Even the large, colorful cast of the show can’t deprive Nate of the spotlight in this funny, tender coming-of-age story, which doubles as an insider account about growing up on stage that will appeal to every budding theater geek. Encore! Ages 10–14. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Jan.)