Better Nate Than Ever
Written by Tim Federle
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.
Primary Source Pairing:
Nate is stuck in Jankburg both underwhelmed by the opportunities the small city offers and underappreciated by his peers for his self-taught acting skills. The lure of NYC is strong, and Nate is pulled to the bright lights of the city. Despite his roundabout journey to the audition, no reliable cell phone battery, and his lack of parental permission, Nate gets the part in the production of E.T.: The Musical. Nate is transformed by the city and all it has to offer a young boy from Jankburg, PA. For this primary source pairing, use a photograph of Broadway in New York City to begin a discussion about the setting of the story and how it influences change in Nate during the story.
Questions for Discussion:
- Describe what you see.
- What do you notice first?
- What people and objects are shown?
- How are they arranged?
- What is the physical setting?
- What’s happening in the image?
- What text do you see? What text can you read?
- How does the setting play an important role in the story?
- Compare Nate’s description of Jankburg, PA to how he describes NYC.
- Why does Nate like NYC?
- Have you visited NYC or another big city before? What did you like about it? How does it compare to where you live?
Book Cover and Summary: Follett
“Broadway in New York City” photograph by Martin Dürrschnabel: Wikimedia