Title: Beat the Band
Series: Sequel to Swim the Fly
Author: Don Calame
ISBN: 9780763646332
Pages: 390 pages
Publisher/Date: Candlewick, c2010.
Reviewed from ARC furnished by Publisher
Publication Date: September 14, 2010 (That’s TODAY!)

Since I realize ARCs (Advanced Reader Copy) are not the finalized book and can go through the editing process still, I figured I’d quote from GoodReads.com rather than the ARC itself. The cover image was also taken from GoodReads.com.

It’s the beginning of the school year, and the tenth-grade Health class has to work in twos on semester-long projects. Matt and Sean get paired up (the jerks), but Coop is matched with the infamous “Hot Dog” Helen for a presentation on safe sex. Everybody’s laughing, except for Coop, who’s convinced that the only way to escape this popularity death sentence is to win “The Battle of the Bands” with their group Arnold Murphy’s Bologna Dare. There’s just one problem: none of the guys actually plays an instrument. Will Coop regain his “cool” before it’s too late? Or will the forced one-on-one time with Helen teach him a lesson about social status he never saw coming?

With ribald humor and a few sweet notes, screenwriter-turned-novelist Don Calame once again hits all the right chords.

The summary is correct, in that there is some vulgar humor, but it’s similar to the stuff found in the first book by Calame. It’s not necessary to read Swim the Fly before this one, because this one is told from Cooper’s point of view. This book is funny. It’s absolutely hysterical in some parts, like when the basement loses power with four guys and two girs in the same room, or when Cooper intentionally rips some smelly farts in order to discourage someone from sitting next to him. Irreverent, girl-obsessed, immature Cooper is still causing trouble for himself and his friends, Matt and Sean, and it’s amazing what they put up with from Coop. But you can tell that these guys have been together for a while and are used to putting up with each other, and it’s the camraderie between the three of them that attracts you to the story.

Just as Sean and Matt go through a transformation of sorts in the first book, and Cooper has his own by the end of the book. Another character who goes through a transformation is Helen. Helen puts up with a lot of ridicule from her classmates, and it’s refreshing to see a realistic reversal of fortune by the time of the Battle of the Bands. Her strength is admirable, and her plight is extremely sympathetic for girl readers who might have personally been the butt end of the popular clicque’s jokes.

Here’s hoping that Don Calame continues the story from Sean’s point of view next. This is an author to pay attention to.