Five, Six, Seven, Nate!



Strong sequel sparkles with charm, humor, and heart.

What parents need to know

Educational value
This is a backstage pass to a theater production. Aspiring stars (and understudies) will get a sense of what it's really like to prepare a show. There's a fair amount of Broadway history woven into the story.
Positive messages
Nate's interests earned him mockery at home, but in the world of theater he fits right in and thrives. He's able to reconcile his dreams and reality, coming to understand that not everyone deserves the main spotlight and that those in supporting roles are just as important to the big show.
Positive role models
Nate's generous and honest. He recognizes talent and attributes even in rivals, and appreciates how others shine in ways he doesn't. And he's indefatigable: His role in the show keeps shrinking, but he doesn't get bitter or make less of an effort. Several adults working on the show recognize his strengths, even if they don't always know how to use them. Nate and Libby have a pact to stand up for victims of bullying, and Nate does so when he feels the show's director is being bullied.
Not applicable

Nate kisses another boy and has some feelings for others. One character is described as a ladies' man, and an adult woman is referred to as a "fox." Nate's friend back home founds a Gay-Straight Alliance at school and tells Nate another boy at school is gay.


Mild coarse language includes "screw," "balls," "nuts," and "friggin'" and the slur "fag."


Dozens of brand names are mentioned, including soft drinks, restaurants (Applebee's, Papa John's), tech-related tools and programs (iPhone, Nokia, Droid, Skype), snacks (Clark Bar, Cracker Jack, Oreo), websites (Facebook, Amazon), and fashion brands (Converse, Keds, Abercrombie).

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
An adult cast member smokes cigars. There's a reference to adults having celebratory drinks and an incident in a bar that leads to blackmail. An adult working on the show jokes that he'll need a drink to calm down.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Five, Six, Seven, Nate! -- the sequel to Tim Federle's charming debut novel, Better Nate Than Ever -- moves Nate's emerging sexual awareness to center stage. The first book hinted that Nate may be gay, and now Nate grows increasingly comfortable in his own skin and has his first kiss with another boy. But the story will speak to anyone who has felt like an outsider: The very enthusiasm and passions that get Nate bullied back home help him find friendship and happiness in New York. Nate learns the hard way how quickly a digital photo can go viral. There are many references to the extent to which Nate was bullied at home, including a fake "Nate Fagster" page on Facebook. Also, a main character's mom is seriously ill.

What's the story?

Nate Foster is eager to make his Broadway dreams come true as an understudy in E.T.: The Musical. His best friend, Libby, is the only thing he misses from home -- he's relieved to be away from middle school bullying and unhappy family life. But Broadway isn't quite the glittery paradise he dreamed of: Nate discovers he isn't exactly E.T.'s understudy -- he's the understudy's understudy. The choreographers give him extra workouts but little else. The boy playing Elliott seems to hate him, and the kid's mom is even worse. But Nate, used to being a misfit, is fine being his own audacious, awkward self. His bubbling enthusiasm and unique talents win him respect and friendships. And once again Nate finds himself facing a future full of possibility.

Is it any good?

FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, NATE! is a strong follow-up to Better Nate Than Ever. Buzzing with clever quips and quirky characters, it's grounded with a sweet, relatable young teen and an insider's knowledge of stage life in New York. The messages are heartwarming without being maudlin.
Nate is a terrific hero for underdogs of all types. His anxieties and insecurities belie an easygoing, roll-with-the-punches strength. Nate doesn't challenge bullies directly but endures with humor and an arsenal of coping techniques that put him on top. It's probably best enjoyed as a sequel: Readers are plunged wholly into the unique world of theater kids, and Nate's considerable growth is more meaningful set against the early part of his story.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the evidence Libby presents as proof that Bill is "definitely gay": tap classes, "liberal" status in his Facebook profile, and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? among his favorite movies. Is she savvy or stereotyping

  • Have you ever had a photo, text, or Tweet spread too far, too fast, like Nate's E.T. photo? How you can avoid being in a situation like that?
  • What do you think of the different ways Nate, his parents, and Libby respond to bullying? For help talking about bullying and how to be an upstander, read our article "Bullying Is Everybody's Business."

Book details

Author:Tim Federle
Genre:Coming of Age
Topics:Arts and dance, Friendship, Great boy role models, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:January 21, 2014
Number of pages:304
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 14
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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