Upstaged by Diana Harmon Asher

Published by Harry N. Abrams Upstaged (9781419740817): Asher, Diana Harmon: Books

Summary:  Shira gets pushed by her friend Cassie into auditioning for her middle school’s production of The Music Man, and she’s not sure she wants the role she gets: Jacey Squires, a member of the barbershop quartet.  No one is surprised when eighth-grade diva Monica gets the part of Marian the Librarian, but it comes as a shock when Shira is asked to be her understudy.  Cassie has been Shira’s only friend for the last couple of years, but as the play gets underway, her confidence slowly increases and she finds herself with some new friends…and a crush or two.  There’s plenty of drama outside the play itself, and a surprise or two in the final production, all of which leads to a heartfelt and satisfying conclusion.  288 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  Middle school musical fans get two excellent new books this year: The Chance to Fly and now Upstaged.  This one has a much more low-key cast of characters who are all dealing with some insecurities that many middle school kids will relate to.  There’s plenty of humor, too, and the middle school boys especially rang true for me.

Cons:  It would have been nice to give Monica and Ms. Channing, the ditzy director, a little more substance.

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