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Beat the Band

Beat the Band

4.5 8
by Don Calame, Nick Podehl (Read by)

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Get ready for riffs on hot girls, health class, and social hell! The outrageously funny boys from Swim the Fly return to rock their sophomore year.

In this hilarious sequel to Swim the Fly, told from Coop’s point of view, it’s the beginning of the school year, and the tenth-grade health class must work in pairs on semester-long projects.


Get ready for riffs on hot girls, health class, and social hell! The outrageously funny boys from Swim the Fly return to rock their sophomore year.

In this hilarious sequel to Swim the Fly, told from Coop’s point of view, it’s the beginning of the school year, and the tenth-grade health class must work in pairs on semester-long projects. Matt and Sean get partnered 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 social 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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I couldn't stop laughing at this book. Cooper may be the most unlikely (and yet thoroughly likeable) hero you'll ever find yourself rooting for." — Meg Cabot
VOYA - Angelina E. Barnard
To Cooper, there is nothing worse than a group health project on social diseases. Things might not be so bad if he had an attractive female partner. In Calame's second book, readers will be laughing out loud as Coop's social life takes a nosedive, thanks to project partner Hot Dog Helen, the school outcast. This novel is filled with hilarious misadventures and teenage boy humor. Reviewer: Angelina E. Barnard, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Madelene Rathbun Barnard
A 1, and a 2, and a 3 . . . Beat the Band is a rhythmic ride complete with high school antics. Plus it is easy to read. Even if you cannot dance to it, the main characters' music—or should I say, attempts at playing music—gives this book an American Band Stand high score. Calame brings back the dynamic hilarious trio of Coop, Matt, and Sean, first introduced in Swim the Fly (Candlewick, 2009/VOYA August 2009). Their life goal is to "keep their [school] year from going up in flames" and to meet girls. If you are looking for a 1950s version of teen life, this is not the book for you. There is contemporary gutter humor focusing on the age-old male teen rite of passage. Whether the characters are getting to first base or rocking out in a band ("to get the girls of course"), Calame provides a very entertaining, laugh—out-loud read. In the end, boy meets girl, she is not totally repulsed, and life rocks on in Beat the Band. The raw comic relief will keep teens reading. Plus, this screenwriter-turned-young-adult-author has deftly inserted the lesson that the good girl character wins over cosmetic looks. This reviewer looks forward to the future antics of Coop, Matt, and Sean. Reviewer: Madelene Rathbun Barnard
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
Calame gives the next installment of the "epic" escapades of tenth-grader Cooper Redmond and his friends in this smashingly hilarious sequel to Swim the Fly. Cooper has big plans for the new semester, chiefly focusing on major league sexual conquests (though he has yet to kiss his first girl), plans that are disastrously threatened when he is paired with the class pariah, "Hotdog Helen," to give a health class presentation on safe sex. The only way to salvage the situation? Create a rock band so beyond-cool that all the high school babes will soon be throwing themselves at his feet. The only problems with this solution? Well, for starters, the lack of any musical talent and/or experience on the part of the band members, Cooper's dad's crazy zeal to distract himself from job-seeking by reliving his own rock-star-wannabe past, a plagiarized demo tape that is sure to be discovered any minute, and a random explosion or two. Just about every single scene is side-splittingly, gut-bustingly riotous (there are also some genuinely poignant and touching scenes toward the end for the satisfying conclusion), and just about every single line is a comic masterpiece. I could not stop laughing myself silly at Cooper's nonstop stream of sophomoric, immature, raunchy humor. Calame's intended audience will be laughing themselves sick. This is a very funny book. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Narrator Nick Podehl excels at embodying hilarious teenage male characters, and his voicing of 15-year-old Cooper Redmond is no exception. Podehl is not new to Cooper or his friends Matt and Sean—he took on all three in Don Calame's Swim the Fly (2009; Sept. 2010, p. 66). In that book, the focus was on nice but nerdy Matt, with Cooper as his obnoxious sidekick. In this sequel (2010, both Candlewick), Coop takes center stage. After being paired up with class pariah, "Hot Dog" Helen, for a health class project on safe sex, Coop is desperate to save his sinking reputation. Despite their lack of talent, he is determined, along with Matt and Sean, to compete in his school's Battle of the Bands. Podehl captures Coop's raunchy, sex obsessed personality as well as his eventual realization that there is more to a relationship than how many "bases you can tag." With his vocal skills and Calame's brilliant, humorous text, Podehl reflects Cooper's maturation as he navigates the ever-challenging world of high school. Podehl's female voices are convincing and his interpretation of Cooper's father is hysterical. This is laugh-out-loud fun, and fans of the series will be pleased and hope that a third book from Sean's point of view will be on the way.—Shari Fesko, Southfield Public Library, MI
Kirkus Reviews
In this side-splitting sequel, Calame details the Swim the Fly (2009) guys' sophomore year, this time from the perspective of horny Cooper. After meeting their goal of seeing a real naked woman last summer, Cooper convinces the boys to set the bar higher: winning the school's Battle of the Bands despite their total lack of musical talent or ability. Coop's real motivation is to use the competition to draw attention away from his unwanted health-class–project pairing with school pariah Helen, which backfires when he ends up falling for her. Coop keeps the laughs coming by using his dubious powers of persuasion to engineer everything from a fart-fest in the school library to a self-tanning experiment that goes horribly wrong, all for the good of the band. With song-title chapter headings providing a subtle soundtrack and the inspired addition of Coop's dad, an unemployed former garage-band member who steals scene after scene with his lessons on getting groupies and amateur pyrotechnics, fans have nothing but more good gross fun to look forward to. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt



THIS IS IT, DAWGS," I say. "From boys to men. Tenth grade is the year we tag all the bases. First, second, third, and then we slide into home."

"I'd just be happy to step into the batter's box again," Sean says.
I shoot him a gimme-a-break look. "Don't be so mopey, dude. Tianna was just a practice swing. Now you're primed to aim for the fences."

Me, Matt, and Sean shortcut across Dreyfus Park, our bikes kicking up the dust that settled over the summer as we head toward the beige brick building of Lower Rock- ville High that looms like a penitentiary. A penitentiary chock with hotties, to be sure, but a lockup for most of the daylight hours, nonetheless.

"I don't know," Sean says. "I don't think I'm over her yet."

"Of course you aren't," Matt consoles. "It's only been a week since you split up."

I laugh. "Are you kidding me? They were only going out for a month. A week is more than enough time to get over it. It's standard formula: One day of angst for every week you were dating. Four weeks, four days. Over and out. Any more time is just a wank."

Matt looks at me in disbelief. "Where do you get these things?"

"It's common knowledge, dude. Google it." "What do I do if I see her in the hall?" Sean asks. "What do you mean, if ?" I say, pumping the pedals on my creaky mountain bike, feeling the strain in my legs as we split the goalposts and ride over the football field. "You are going to see her in the hall. She might even be in a bunch of your classes. Who gives a crap?"

"Just say hi," Matt offers.

"No." I glare at Matt. "Wrong. Do not take advice from the Whipped One." I turn to Sean. "You say nothing. She dumped you, so she no longer exists. Simple as that."

"Ignore her?" Sean says. "I don't know if I can do that."

I sigh, exasperated. "Look, Sean. You're a changed man. We all are. This past summer was epic. Look at all we accomplished. Our first party, yours and Matt's first girlfriends, Matt kicking ass in the butterfly, seeing our first naked babe -"

Sean cringes. "Please. Do not bring that up ever again.

I'm still having nightmares about Ms. Luntz threatening to suffocate me with her gargantuan gazongas unless I swim a thousand laps."

"What I'm trying to say is, you're no longer wet behind the ears.Tianna breaking up with you is the best thing that could have happened. I mean, seriously, why would you want to waste the best years of your life tied to just one babe? No offense, Matt."

"Why would I be offended?" Matt says. "It's not like me and Valerie are getting married."

"No," I say. "You're just having her baby." Matt scowls. "You're so full of it, Coop."

"Sean-o? A little backup here. Matthew is, in fact, carrying Valerie's baby, is he not?"

"Leave me out of it," Sean says, the wind whipping his hair.

I raise my eyebrows at Matt, like "Need I say more?" "Jealous much?" Matt says.

"Oh, yeah, without a doubt. Green as hell. Aren't we, Sean? We'd love to have to ask permission anytime we want to do something. And be dragged to every chick flick that comes out. And have to drop everything when- ever our 'honeykins' calls."

Matt shakes his head. "Everything you just said is total bullshit. And you know it."

I smirk. "Then why is your face getting red?" "Because it isn't." I glance at Sean. "Sean-o?"

Sean looks off in the distance. "I said, leave me out of it."

Matt rolls his eyes. "Yeah, you guys have really matured this summer. It's staggering."

We hop the curb into the student parking lot and pedal toward the bike racks. The lot is already full. I don't have my driver's license yet - another thing I need to get started on this year - but everyone knows that if you want to nab a parking space you have to get to school at least twenty minutes early. We pass my sister Angela's car, recognizable by the fact that it's the only one in the lot with a car cover. It's her sickness. One of many.

"Look, Matt," I say. "You're acting like we think it's a bad thing. So, Valerie's got a tight grip on your Mr. BoDangles. At least you're getting some. Some of what, I'm not sure. But you seem comfortable with the trade- off. Personally, I wouldn't be. And I'd be lying if I said Sean and I don't miss you sometimes. But we get by. Don't we, Sean?"

Sean says nothing. Jesus, I hope he's not going to use this Tianna thing as an excuse to be such a soggy turd all year long.

The three of us coast up to the bike racks and leap off our bikes.

"All I'm saying is, we have an opportunity here." I pull a key from the pocket of my jeans, unlock my bike lock, and unravel the chain from around the seat post. "Our summer goal was a success. We saw a live naked -"

"Hey!" Sean shouts, waving a yellow coil lock at me like a weapon. "Did I not just ask you never to bring that up again?"

I laugh. "Sorry. But remember what I told you at the beginning of the summer? About the natural order of things? Internet porn, live naked girl, and then the dirty deed? Well, we're ready to take that next step."

"Would you stop it with that stupid theory of yours?" Matt says. "You wouldn't know the natural order of things if it crapped on your head."

Sean snickers. I ignore him and give Matt a you-can't- be-serious look. "Correct me if I'm wrong here, Matt. Maybe I shouldn't be including you with me and Sean. Maybe you've already rounded all the bases. If you have, just say so."

Meet the Author

Don Calame is a screenwriter whose film projects include Employee of the Month and Hounded. Of his many prior occupations, he says his most satisfying was teaching elementary school for four years in Los Angeles. Swim the Fly was his debut novel. He lives in British Columbia.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Beat the Band 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sequel to Swim the Fly. Although the storyline isnt as good as the book before, it still very good and is a bit funnier. Very good book. Hopefully Mr. Calame will write a third book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kiss your hand post this in three different books and look under your pillow
gjrp More than 1 year ago
If you want to read a book that will make you laugh out loud in a quiet library, then Beat the Band is the book for you.  It is filled with all of the raunchy humor you would get in those late night movies like Scary Movie and Revenge of the Nerds, and the cliff hangers between chapters just want to make you read the book more and more.   There is great character development between all of the characters, and I believe, the plot is pretty good for a raunchy book. Basically, Beat the Band is about this kid’s sophomore year in high school.  His name is Cooper, and he wants this year to be amazing; unlike any other year before.  The main part of the story has to do with playing in a battle of the bands at the school and dealing with a group project that is required for Health.  This would have been a lot easier for Coop, but he was paired up with Helen Harriwick, a school “loser.”  Now Cooper has to deal with the pressure of getting the band to be successful and finishing the Health assignment with Helen. Don Calame, the author of Beat the Band, had a very good writing style.  The way he wrote this book, actually, made me feel like I was there listening to the conversations, and I was unable to look away from the book.  The way he made the characters was absolutely brilliant.  He made the characters act exactly as they should; a bunch of teenage boys who crack jokes about flatulence and what goes on “in bed.”  This book really appeals to an audience of teenagers. The character development was pretty good.  Even though this was a sequel, there was still a lot that you could learn from the characters.  Calame goes a lot deeper into Cooper’s character as well.  Could there be a softer, less shallow side to him?  You would have to read the book to find out. If you have ever read enough books or watched enough movies, you would know that this book could be a bit predictable, and that is normal, but the story in between is the best part about this book.  This book is a laugh out loud riot.  You can relate to this book on so many levels. From social issues to the birds and the bees, this book has it all: comedy, drama, and (romance?)  If you are not a fan of reading, this could be the book for you because when you are into the book, it won’t even feel like you’re reading at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Calame plz right some more. Ill die if i cant read more of coop matt and sean. And you cant forget heavanly Hellen
Dazzlamb More than 1 year ago
In SWIM THE FLY we followed the story around the three friends Matt, Sean and Coop. We’ve got them back in BEAT THE BAND, now told from Coop’s point of view. Dirty mind Coop is talking so double notice the parental advice on the back of the book! I was looking forward to hear Coop’s voice after Matt kind of found his happy end in SWIM THE FLY. BEAT THE BAND shows that his mind is exactly as dirty and wicked as I remembered from SWIM THE FLY. It’s great to finally have a character like Coop in the YA scene, because I like the way he thinks. He goes through a major change of personality and his way of thinking which wasn’t very surprising and was to be expected, but still fascinating to see. Helen seems to bring out the best in him and somehow disable the connection from his pants to his brain. So in the course of the story he actually starts thinking with his upper body brain. Music makes up a big part of the story since the boys decide to win the battle of bands. There’s also a string of action circling around Coop’s family or more his currently unemployed father. Other than his funny jokes and winning the band contest, the blooming relationship between Coop and social outcast Helen is of high interest. Helen is a very convenient character and because she’s such a strong young girl it’s not difficult to like her. With the two of them we’ve got two strong contrasted characters with a lot of delicious tension between them. The story also circles around sex and I felt that Don Calame totally represented the youth view of a boy on the topic. BEAT THE BAND follows a similar scheme as SWIM THE FLY. And I must say it is exactly as badass as the first book in the series. What I like better about BEAT THE BAND is that Calame lays a larger focus on the major love story. THE VERDICT This book has a nice mix of topics to offer, with a protagonist searching for love, a group of boys following a common goal and many pranks, high-school intrigues and issues of all kinds. There are a lot of new funny actions that make BEAT THE BAND a funny delight.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Gold Star Award Winner! In the author note for BEAT THE BAND, Don Calame states, "It was hard saying good-bye to the characters in SWIM THE FLY. And then I realized I didn't have to. I just needed to find a way to get them back into trouble again." This reader is extremely pleased that Calame missed his characters enough to give them another chance in BEAT THE BAND. I found them even more engaging and entertaining this second time around. It is sophomore year, and Cooper Redmond has a new goal in life. He has decided that during his second year in high school he needs to find a way to hit all the bases, and he's not referring to athletic feats on the baseball diamond. Cooper has his sights set on Prudence, the leader of the hottest group of popular girls in the school. When Mrs. Turris announces the semester-long health project, Cooper sees it as his chance to shine. He is sure the odds are in his favor and he'll score Prudence, or at least one of her minions, as a project partner. When the Fates intervene and give him hated Helen Harriwick as a partner instead, his whole plan begins to crumble. And if having a disastrous partner is not bad enough, the subject of their partnership project is contraception. It's truly the end of the world for Cooper. Cooper thinks he may have the answer to all his problems when he hears the announcement about the upcoming Battle of the Bands. He and his buddies, Matt and Sean, have experimented some with the rock band idea. Maybe they could dust off their instruments and, with a little practice, wow everyone with their musical talent enough to get people thinking of Cooper as a cool dude and not as some loser stuck with "Hot Dog" Helen. What follows is a story hilarious and raunchy enough to hook every guy reader, and gross out most girls brave enough to crack the cover. Calame is right on target with the thoughts and antics of 10th grade boys. His gritty locker room banter combined with offbeat characters like Cooper's dad and his crazy schemes work to create a super sequel to SWIM THE FLY. This one has me waiting eagerly for what Calame has to offer next.