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Shira loves to sing but hates being the center of attention. Then her BFF convinces her to try out for the school musical. Can Shira find the courage to step into the spotlight?
Ages 10+
Pages 278
Publisher Abrams

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What the Book Is About

Seventh grader Shira loves to sing, but she’s also an introvert who blushes when she’s the center of attention. When her best friend Cassie convinces her to try out for the school musical, The Music Man, Shira hopes to blend into the background in the ensemble, but instead she gets two very visible roles: a mustached member of the traditionally all-male barbershop quartet, and understudy to the mean girl who got the lead. This adorable book has well-drawn characters, a great message about accepting yourself as you are, and a lot of heart.   

Jewish Content & Values

Shira is Jewish and will have a bat mitzvah. In a bar mitzvah scene at the temple, we learn that the bar mitzvah boy’s parsha was parshat Noach. A classmate says that he enjoys the Torah blessings. There’s also a scene at the bar mitzvah party.

Positive Role Models

  • Shira is shy but finds the courage to try out for the school musical, and she perseveres even when she gets a role that she initially finds embarrassing. Over the course of the book, she learns to accept herself as she is and to recognize who her true friends are.
  • Paul is a loyal friend who doesn’t care what the popular kids think of him. He is comfortable in his own skin and has no interest in behaving differently in order to fit in.

Content Advisory

There’s a small amount of fat shaming of Jason, who is referred to as “chubby.” There’s some crush talk and kissing talk, but it’s age appropriate. There is one kiss, which takes place in the play.

Talk It Over

Shira’s shyness nearly prevents her from performing in the school play. Have you ever overcome a hurdle in order to do something you really wanted? What was it, and what steps did you take to achieve your goal?

More for You

The Music Man is a rare musical in that it wasn’t written by Jews. Jewish composers and lyricists dominated American musical theater for decades and are still writing big hits in the 21st century: Wicked by Stephen Schwartz is just one example. Experts suggest that part of the reason for the success of Jews in musical theater is that they drew on diverse styles including klezmer and jazz, and that in shows like Showboat, West Side Story, and Cabaret, they addressed subjects that were groundbreaking at the time, including racism and the rise of fascism in Germany. The ubiquity of Jewish composers and lyricists is such that a line in a song from the Monty Python musical comedy Spamalot says, “You won’t succeed on Broadway if you don’t have any Jews.”
What the Book Is About

What the Book Is About

Seventh grader Shira loves to sing, but she’s also an introvert who blushes when she’s the center of attention. When her best friend Cassie convinces her to try out for the school musical, The Music Man, Shira hopes to blend into the background in the ensemble, but instead she gets two very visible roles: a mustached member of the traditionally all-male barbershop quartet, and understudy to the mean girl who got the lead. This adorable book has well-drawn characters, a great message about accepting yourself as you are, and a lot of heart.   

Jewish Content & Values

Shira is Jewish and will have a bat mitzvah. In a bar mitzvah scene at the temple, we learn that the bar mitzvah boy’s parsha was parshat Noach. A classmate says that he enjoys the Torah blessings. There’s also a scene at the bar mitzvah party.

Positive Role Models

  • Shira is shy but finds the courage to try out for the school musical, and she perseveres even when she gets a role that she initially finds embarrassing. Over the course of the book, she learns to accept herself as she is and to recognize who her true friends are.
  • Paul is a loyal friend who doesn’t care what the popular kids think of him. He is comfortable in his own skin and has no interest in behaving differently in order to fit in.

Content Advisory

There’s a small amount of fat shaming of Jason, who is referred to as “chubby.” There’s some crush talk and kissing talk, but it’s age appropriate. There is one kiss, which takes place in the play.

Talk It Over

Shira’s shyness nearly prevents her from performing in the school play. Have you ever overcome a hurdle in order to do something you really wanted? What was it, and what steps did you take to achieve your goal?

More for You

The Music Man is a rare musical in that it wasn’t written by Jews. Jewish composers and lyricists dominated American musical theater for decades and are still writing big hits in the 21st century: Wicked by Stephen Schwartz is just one example. Experts suggest that part of the reason for the success of Jews in musical theater is that they drew on diverse styles including klezmer and jazz, and that in shows like Showboat, West Side Story, and Cabaret, they addressed subjects that were groundbreaking at the time, including racism and the rise of fascism in Germany. The ubiquity of Jewish composers and lyricists is such that a line in a song from the Monty Python musical comedy Spamalot says, “You won’t succeed on Broadway if you don’t have any Jews.”

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