Better Nate Than Ever

For Ages: 9 - 13
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A New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a Publishers' Weekly Best Book of the Year, and a Slate Favorite Book of the Year. A small-town boy hops a bus to New York City to crash an audition for E.T.: The Musical.

Nate Foster has big dreams. His whole life, he’s wanted to star in a Broadway show. (Heck, he’d settle for seeing a Broadway show.) But how is Nate supposed to make his dreams come true when he’s stuck in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, where no one (except his best pal Libby) appreciates a good show tune? With Libby’s help, Nate plans a daring overnight escape to New York. There’s an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, and Nate knows this could be the difference between small-town blues and big-time stardom.

Tim Federle’s “hilarious and heartwarming debut novel” (Publishers Weekly) is full of broken curfews, second chances, and the adventure of growing up—because sometimes you have to get four hundred miles from your backyard to finally feel at home.
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  • Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781442446908 | 
  • February 2013 | 
  • Grades 4 - 8
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Tim Federle Q&A

Broadway's Thomas Schumacher sits down with author Tim Federle to talk about his inspiration and discuss his debut novel, Better Nate Than Ever.

Read an Excerpt

Some Backstory

I’d rather not start with any backstory.

I’m too busy for that right now: planning the escape, stealing my older brother’s fake ID (he’s lying about his height, by the way), and strategizing high-protein snacks for an overnight voyage to the single most dangerous city on earth.

So no backstory, not yet.

Just . . . fill in the pieces. For instance, if I neglect to tell you that I’m four foot eight, feel free to picture me a few inches taller. If I also neglect to tell you that all the other boys in my grade are five foot four, and that James Madison (his actual name) is... see more

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Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide for Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle About the Book Thirteen-year-old Nate Foster doesn’t fit in at his Jankburg, Pennsylvania middle school. Instead of being athletic and community-minded like his town-favorite big brother, Anthony, short, chubby Nate is a belting boy soprano who dreams of starring in a Broadway show. With the help of his best friend, Libby, he embarks on a definitely-not-parent-approved journey to New York City to audition for a musical version of the famous movie, E.T. Nate soon learns that getting to the audition is only the beginning of an adventure on which he discovers the true meaning of family, friendship, acceptance, and, most important, how to be his own best self. Discussion Questions 1. As the novel begins, readers meet Nate and Libby in the Fosters’ backyard. After reading this first chapter, list at least three worries Nate has about his upcoming adventure to New York. Also, list at least three concerns Nate has about how life is going in Jankburg. 2. Nate and Libby use a kind of shorthand in their conversations by referring to Broadway shows and song lyrics. Can you think of any shared experiences that you and your friends or family use to communicate in a special way? Explain your answer. 3. Throughout his stay in New York City, Nate finds himself delighted by the div see more

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