FICTION

Upstaged

Abrams/Amulet. Mar. 2021. 288p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781419740817.
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Gr 5 Up–Talented but shy seventh grader Shira can’t figure out how she got talked into auditioning for the school musical, and she’s more horrified than pleased when she gets cast as the high tenor in The Music Man’s barbershop quartet. Just as she’s getting used to the idea of singing with a mustache, she’s also assigned to understudy for mean girl/lead actress Monica. When the unthinkable happens, will Shira be able to move past her overpowering shyness and save the day? Although there’s really only one way for this plot to go, it’s an effective backdrop for Shira’s character development—going from having one friend to acquiring many as she becomes part of an ensemble for the first time, having a crush on the wrong boy until she realizes who the right one is, and learning to stand up for herself and her friends without being mean. It’s also a fun, behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to put on a school play (and it will also have readers checking their streaming service for Meredith Wilson’s classic musical).
VERDICT Hand to fans of Andrew Keenan-Bolger’s “Jack and Louisa” books or Tim Federle’s “Nate” series, as well as to the school theatre crowd and shy girls everywhere.

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