From School Library Journal
Gr 8-11–In this very funny sequel to Swim the Fly (Candlewick, 2009), Coop takes over narration duties as he and his best friends, Matt and Sean, return for their sophomore year. Right off the bat they are assigned partners for a semester-long health-class project. To his horror, Coop is paired with “Hot Dog” Helen, the school outcast, and assigned to research contraceptives. Immediately dubbed “Corn Dog Coop,” he is desperate for a way to salvage his social status. An upcoming Battle of the Bands presents the perfect opportunity for him to reveal his inner rock god and make a good impression on all the hottest girls. He recruits his friends into “Arnold Murphy's Bologna Dare,” and they divide their time between rehearsals and hilariously misguided attempts to perfect their look. Meanwhile, the most popular girls in school enlist Coop to help them sabotage Helen, and he can't find a way to extricate himself from their plot to humiliate her. When she joins his band as the much-needed lead singer, grudging respect turns to infatuation even as his guilt grows. The inevitable revelation and its aftermath are both gut-wrenching and touching. Subplots about the band's cribbed demo tape and Coop's father's efforts to manage the group add depth to the story. Creative sexual slang and bathroom humor begin on page one, but Coop is mostly just talk. Messages about bullying and consequences of teen sex (included via the health project) add just the right note of gravitas to this rockin' romp.–Amy Pickett, Ridley High School, Folsom, PA. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
It’s not all that often the wisecracking buddy gets to be narrator, but that’s what happens in Calame’s endearing follow-up to Swim the Fly (2009). Fifteen-year-old Cooper’s nightmare—being paired with class pariah “Hot Dog Helen” for a semester-long project—has one solution: get respect by winning the school’s Battle of the Bands. Each chapter is titled after a thematically appropriate song (guess what “Smells like Teen Spirit” is about), and the band’s attempts to transform themselves into swaggering, spray-tanned rock gods is rife with laugh-out-loud blunders. As the slang-happy Coop might say, this is one part brill and one part ridic. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus