Superstar by Mandy Davis [in Shelf Awareness]
“Oh, Lester, you’re going to love it so much,” Lucy Musselbaum promises her 10-year-old son about entering Quarry Elementary. Homeschooled until now, Lester is understandably wary – change is always tough for him – but Lucy gently explains she’s “100 percent sure” she needs to go back to work to support their family of two. Five years ago, Lester lost his astronaut father in a horrifying space shuttle accident. Now with their savings “running low,” Lucy’s found work as a librarian.
“School is … going to take a little while to adjust,” Lucy tells Lester. In Mrs. Raines’s fifth-grade class, Lester has 27 other students to meet. He’s already had a run-in with “that Ricky kid,” but Abby is friendly (she wants to dress him in “Superhero chic”), and Michael Z. “[doesn’t] care if [he’s] weird.” Lunchtime is tough, with unbearable noise levels in the cafeteria, but Lester inadvertently finds refuge – and relief from his distracting hunger – in the principal’s office.
While Lester eases into school with bumps and victories along the way, his mother, his classmates, his teachers, and even the principal learn a lot as well. Between lessons in friendship, playground politics, paper aerodynamics, “special spot” breaks, and kickball, Lester also comes to understand that autism is “a way of being in the world.” Using first-person narrative, debut author Mandy Davis imbues Lester’s voice with unguarded openness and candid observations. Struggling but resilient, challenging but determined, Lester repeatedly proves the many, many ways he’s truly the titular “superstar.”
Discover: Mandy Davis’s debut introduces Superstar Lester Musselbaum – a 10-year-old boy with autism – as he figures out how to handle public school for the first time.