Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 02/01/2013 The lights of Broadway have always been a beacon of hope for perpetual outcast Nate Foster, and when the creators of E.T.: The Musical announce an open casting call, eighth-grader Nate is certain that he has finally found a way to escape his provincial life for the big city. With the help of his pal and fellow show-tune aficionado, Libby, Nate devises a plan to make it to New York and back without having to alert his conservative parents, but things go awry when Nate gets a callback (he wasn’t prepared for actual success) and Libby has to cover for him back home. From his obsession with the first franchise restaurant he sees in New York (“the Cadillac of Applebee’s”) to his infectious enthusiasm for city-life (“A cab honks and then another one does . . . everything is so flipping jubilant here”), Nate is the quintessential starry-eyed small-town boy in the Big Apple. The outrageousness of his rookie mistakes as a newbie to both the concrete jungle (he asks a homeless woman to make change) and the competitive auditioning scene (he reads all the parts for his audition, making it an impromptu one-man show) are made additionally hilarious by his matter-of-fact, rapid-fire narration and endearing unawareness. Between the hijinks and the humor, however, Nate reveals himself to be a kid who accepts that he is a disappointment to his conventional family and yet still remains solidly himself, optimistically certain that there is a place for guys like him somewhere in the world. There’s plenty of substance to go along with the razzle-dazzle here, so sit back and enjoy the show. KQG - Copyright 2013 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 02/15/2013 In this funny and insightful story, the dreams of many a small-town, theater-loving boy are reflected in the starry eyes of eighth-grader Nate. When Nate hops a Greyhound bus to travel across Pennsylvania to try out for the Broadway-bound musical based on the movie E.T., no one but his best friend, Libby, knows about it; not his athletic brother, religious father, or unhappy mother. Self-reliant, almost to an inauthentic fault, he arrives in Manhattan for the first time and finds his way into the audition with dramatic results, and when his estranged actress/waitress aunt suddenly appears, a troubled family history and a useful subplot surface. Nate’s emerging sexuality is tactfully addressed in an age-appropriate manner throughout, particularly in his wonderment at the differences between his hometown and N.Y.C., “a world where guys . . . can dance next to other guys who probably liked Phantom of the Opera and not get threatened or assaulted.” This talented first-time author has made the classic Chorus Line theme modern and bright for the Glee generation. - Copyright 2013 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 03/01/2013 Gr 5–8—Irrepressible 13-year-old Nate Foster is certain that stardom awaits, as soon as he can leave his stifling life in small-town Jankburg, Pennsylvania, behind. Using his ever-loyal best friend, Libby, as an alibi, he sneaks away to New York City to audition for E.T.: The Musical. Nate and Libby have an endearing habit of using the names of Broadway flops as stand-ins for foul language. A madcap adventure featuring bossy receptionists, cutthroat fellow performers, and wacky casting directors follows. With the help of an understanding aunt, Nate remains goofy and upbeat in the face of constant criticism and rejection. A fun and suspenseful ending will leave readers guessing whether Nate scores the part or not. Federle's semiautobiographical debut explores weighty issues such as sibling rivalry, bullying, religious parents, and gay or questioning teens with a remarkably lighthearted and humorous touch totally appropriate for young audiences.—Madigan McGillicuddy, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, Atlanta, GA - Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.