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Beat the Band Hardcover – September 14, 2010

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Beat the Band + Swim the Fly + Call the Shots
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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763646334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763646332
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,081,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

The boys from Swim the Fly by Don Calame are back!
And in my opinion it's Calame's ability to create these engaging realistic characters that make Beat The Band such a fantastic book.
This one has me waiting eagerly for what Calame has to offer next.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bri on April 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The boys from Swim the Fly by Don Calame are back! Beat the Band isn't exactly a sequel to Swim the Fly, but it does have the same characters. Once I heard about Calame's second book I had to have it. While the first book by Calame was narrated by Matt, Beat the Band has Coop's tale to tell. It isn't essential to read Swim the Fly, but after reading Beat the Band, you'll want to. Both books are hilarious.

It's tenth grade and the boys are upping the ante on their juvenile bets. For the summer, it was to see a real live naked girl. This school year? Cooper's aiming to tag the bases. Coop wants to hook up with model-looking Prudence Nash on the 10th grade health class project...but he's paired with the infamous "Hot Dog" Helen Harriwick. In the eyes of the teens at Lower Rockville High, this is social suicide. So he does what every teen in the depths of loserdom does to reclaim a bit of cool.. forms a band. If Matt, Cooper, and Sean's band, Arnold Murphy's Bologna Dare, wins the Battle of the Bands, they will rocket to cool in no time. Despite the fact none of them can play an instrument, they've never rehearsed, and they have no idea what they're doing. But then Coop spends more time with Helen and discovers what he was missing.

I praised Swim the Fly for its combination of humor with heart. It's good to see Beat the Band doesn't fail in this department. Once again, the characters are somewhat rude and juvenile, the humor might be crude, and the adults in the novel might as well as be teens themselves, but what Calame does so well is make it all work wonderfully. I enjoyed the character development in the first book, Beat the Band gives readers another taste of that. Once again, I have to compare it to Judd Apatow movies - high on crude, laughs, and heart.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CRISTY on September 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
"You won't be sorry; I promise... this is going to be epic!" -Cooper Redmond... Famous last words, yes? Maybe, but that all depends on how you look at it. Even when you lose, sometimes you win something much better.

Although in the same vein of funny as SWIM THE FLY with most of the same cast, BEAT THE BAND (Swim The Fly #2) is a completely different story. To be honest the fact that this second book is written from Cooper's pov had me going in a bit weary from the start. Coop's brazen and often overly juvenile personality, albeit hysterical at times, made him a much less likable character in comparison to Matt, who was just so darn endearing as he narrated his way through book one. But I have to say those concerns were completely a non issue. I'm not saying there weren't some blatantly foul displays of inappropriate male adolescents from Mr. Cooper, because there most definitely were, more than a few and they were laugh-out-loud funny. But we also find there is a lot more to Coop than fart jokes and double entendres in this second installment. Fortunately author Don Calame saw fit to introduce us to the many layers of Cooper Redmond; as he navigates his way through embarrassing Sex Ed Health Class assignments, the school pariah, an out of work dad, hawt mean girls, his first kiss, the battle of the bands and his conscious.

This is a definite equal opportunity series that teens and adults of both genders will relate to and enjoy. I'm a 32 year old mom of 2 boys and I loved both books. I highly recommend the audio versions, which have provided countless hours of entertainment and distraction for me on the evil treadmill. Narrator Nick Podehl expertly gives a voice and a very distinct individuality to each character. I really hope Calame plans to round out the group and put out a third book from Sean's pov.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alison on January 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Beat The Band is a must read for anyone who loved Swim The Fly, or anyone who likes funny contemporary fiction featuring very normal male characters. Both books center around a trio of friends: Matt, Cooper, and Sean. Matt was the main character of Swim The Fly, and Cooper gets top billing for Beat The Band. It was a gutsy move to feature Cooper as the narrator. He came off as an immature, insensitive jerk in Swim The Fly and that personality carries over into Beat The Band. Cooper thinks of virtually nothing but sex. His only other focus in life is to improve his reputation at school - mostly so he can get girls.

Cooper is basically the ring leader for his group of friends. He's the one who comes up with dumb ideas and cajoles his friends to come along. Now, he's convinced them to enter into the school Battle Of The Bands contest. Never mind that they're terrible players and have to cheat their way in - all that matters is that they're sure to win, become rock-star gods, and have girls running at them tossing their clothes off. Cooper's plan to become Mr. Cool suffers a setback when he's matched up with Hot Dog Helen to do a semester long project in health class on methods of birth control.

The book is hard to read at times simply because Cooper is such a jerk. Not that he's a bad person, but he's fulfills every stereotype of a hormone-crazed teenager. His constantly sexually-charged thoughts were annoying and I disliked his tendency to throw people under the bus to further his own popularity. But I admire Don Calame for having the guts to give us a difficult protagonist. Matt, the narrator of Swim The Fly, was basically a sweet boy - not so good as to be unbelievable but still had a strong moral compass. Calame really has to work to make the reader like Cooper.
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