Upstaged

Upstaged
Publisher
Age Range
8+
Release Date
March 16, 2021
ISBN
978-1419740817
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“As Upstaged shows so brilliantly, even the blaring of seventy-six trombones is not as glorious as the unfolding of a soul out into the world.” —Gary D. Schmidt, two-time Newbery Honor winner

“Warm, funny, and heartfelt, Upstaged will resonate with every young person who ever doubted their own abilities, sang in a school musical, or stood up for a friend. Shira and her wonderful, quirky, talented group of friends will stay with you long after you turn the last page.” --Barbara Carroll Roberts, author of Nikki on the Line

Shira Gordon is painfully shy. She rarely speaks and blushes at everything. And yet, when she’s alone in her room, she’ll sing and dance, dreaming she were different. So when her best friend forces her to audition for their school’s production of The Music Man, she’s mostly hoping the play will get canceled . . . but a tiny part of her hopes she’ll get in.
And she does. As a member of the barbershop quartet. Playing a dude with a mustache is not exactly her dream role, but Shira is surprised by how much she loves rehearsing with her quirky new friends. When her teacher asks her to understudy the lead role, Marian the Librarian, she reluctantly accepts.
It’s not easy to understudy Monica Manley, an eighth-grade diva who will not be upstaged. And things get even more complicated when a mysterious prankster starts playing tricks on Monica and Shira’s crush joins the cast. But something keeps Shira going, and it might just be Marian herself. Sure, Marian is a leading lady, but she’s also misunderstood, lonely . . . and shy. And if a star can be shy, then maybe, just maybe, a shy person can be a star.

Editor review

1 review
Seventy Six Trombones!
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Shira is a really good singer, but she is nervous about performing in front of others. When her best friend Cassie wants to try out for the middle school production of The Music Man, Shira goes along to support her. Cassie ends up with a part in the chorus, but Shira has a larger role-- as part of the barber shop quartet. After some people make snide comments to her about being chosen for a boy's role, she debates not doing the play, but her younger sister, Cassie, and teacher Mr. Hoover convince her that she would do a good job. Popular mean girl Monica gets the role of Marian the librarian, and enthusiastic, friendly theater geek Paul plays Harold Hill. Monica frequently goes to auditions in the city, and Mr. Hoover thinks there should be an understudy for her part, although the "celebrity director", Ms. Channing, (who is also Monica's acting coach) doesn't think this is necessary. Shira enjoys working on the play, and finds Paul fun to be around. She even gets to spend some time with her crush, Drew, who is decently nice to her. Monica is not very nice to the other cast members, and when her expensive eyeliner is used to write a message on her locker, her costume is ordered in the incorrect size, and her script is mangled in a paper cutter, Monica focuses suspicion falls on Paul, whom she doesn't think is quite up to snuff to play opposite her. Paul is "benched" by the principal for a while. The play goes on, and Shira starts to feel a little more comfortable with performing. On the night of the production, something goes badly wrong. Will Shira be able to overcome her fears to save the day?
Good Points
While Shira is anxious and nervous about performing, she still manages to get up and perform with the support of her family and friends. There is a definite trend for showcasing anxiety, but the books are more interesting when the plot focuses more on the characters accomplishing things despite this. The interactions between the cast members are fun, and Paul in particular is a well-drawn character. There are just enough details about putting on a play, and I love that it is based on the author's own experience of being in the Barbershop quartet when she was in school! My school put on The Music Man last year, so it's definitely a play that is still being done!

While it seems unlikely that Monica and her mother would hold such power over the principal, or that Monica would get away with being so mean, this does add a lot more excitement to books, and would probably bother young readers a lot less than it bothers me.

This is another good book about a school play being performed and a good addition to books like Federle's Better Nate Than Ever, Mustaches for Maddie, Freeman's Noah McNicol and the Backstage Ghost, Zadoff's My Life, The Theater, and Other Tragedies, or Young's The Prettiest. (In which The Music Man is also the play being performed!)
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