It’s all about girls, rock ’n’ roll, and the sweet mysteries of life in this thoroughly entertaining romp from Briant (Choppy Socky Blues). English teenager Toby’s big dream is to succeed with his Beatles cover band, even though they can’t even decide on a name. Things get complicated when Toby discovers a note hidden inside the vintage Fender bass he borrowed from his brother, which suggests that the instrument was actually stolen. Toby’s life gets even more interesting when he meets Michelle, a cute girl whose prickly disposition doesn’t deter Toby’s interest in her in the slightest. After Toby learns that he may have to move to London, leaving behind both girl and band, he has only a short amount of time in which to woo Michelle, get the perfect gig, and find his guitar’s original owner. Fast-paced, with authentic characters (the chemistry between Toby and Michelle is particularly satisfying) and a general air of good-natured fun, Briant’s story rings true and doesn’t disappoint. If anything, it ends too soon, with some things still left up in the air. Ages 12–up. (July)
VOYA - Allison Hunter Hill
Toby plays the bass guitar in the yet-to-be-named Beatles cover band he created with his friend, Zack. They dream of making it big but the inconsistent performance of Toby's old guitar, borrowed from his brother, keeps getting in the way. When Toby takes the instrument apart, he immediately spots the problema note from the previous owner wedged between two wires claims that the guitar is stolen, and urges the finder to return it to an address in Brunswick. Returning the instrument turns out to be no simple matter as Toby starts to question where and how his brother acquired the guitar in the first place. To make matters more complicated, Toby is preparing for his first gig with Zack, attempting to impress a beautiful girl named Michelle, and a strange man becomes obsessively interested in Toby and the guitar. Briant's Toby is a convincingly bewildered teen with a lot of concerns. Some are comical, such as the success of his first date hinging on the sighting of a rare bird, but others, such as his stalker, are deadly serious. Yet, Toby is often alarmingly and unrealistically blase about confronting his knife-wielding stalker on a regular basis. Michelle, his potential girlfriend, unfortunately acts as little more than a pretty conscience. Even though the narrative often seems to lose sight of an ultimate goal, it is a quirky, unique story that will appeal to boys looking for an alternative to books about sports. Reviewer: Allison Hunter Hill
Children's Literature - Natalie Gurr
Toby and Zack finally get their first gig. This is a big moment for their Beatles cover band, Nowhere Men. Since Katrina broke up with him, things have been rough but now Toby feels that things are finally starting to look up. Toby has been borrowing his brother's bass but the sound is off and when Toby tries to fix it, he finds a note claiming the bass is stolen. Now Toby isn't sure what to do. He can't afford a new instrument, but he isn't sure he wants to give up the bass. He sets off on a quest to find the true owner, hoping that things will work out. Then there is Michelle. Even though she gave him a nothing out of ten the first time they met, she seems to be warming up to him. Briant has written a snappy coming-of-age novel for teenage boys. The characters are realistic and likeable. Toby is equal parts angst and wit. Teenagers will easily relate to the situations and feelings. The dialogue is refreshing and enjoyable. The writing is crisp and humorous enough that even reluctant readers will be amused.
ALAN Review - Leylja Emiraliyeva-Pitre
Set in the 1990s in Great Britain, Briant's new novel, I Am (not) the Walrus, has it alladventurous characters, well-tuned humor, music for the rock soul, and mystery of the past. Toby and Zack, two high school students, are about to hit it big with their first public appearance playing as a new cover band for The Beatles. While repairing an electric bass guitar, Toby recovers an old, faded note with a plea to return the stolen instrument to its owner. He realizes that the bass may be worth thousands of dollars if it is one of the Fenders that was in the hands of George Harrison. Bewildered by this discovery, Toby shares his concerns with his best friend and band mate, who suggests forgetting about the note and keeping the instrument. His new girlfriend, Michelle, however, convinces Toby to begin a search for the bass's owner. Reviewer: Leylja Emiraliyeva-Pitre,
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—In this charming novel, a possibly stolen guitar causes chaos for 16-year-old Toby. He is the singer and bass player in a Beatles cover band and discovers a note inside his absent brother's guitar. As he investigates, he uncovers some hard truths and stumbles into more than one dangerous situation. Meanwhile, he meets a fascinating girl named Michelle who detests him at first sight and attempts to date her, despite some daunting obstacles. Toby's close friendship with bandmate Zach rings true, as does his budding romance with Michelle. Revelations about his brother don't come as a surprise, however, and Shawn's character is not fully developed. Music fans will likely enjoy the musical references. Toby and Zach's ongoing quest to agree on a name for their band is funny, and teens will cheer them on during their first performance. The story occasionally slows, but overall this is an entertaining mix of romance, mystery, music, friendship, and family drama.—Anthony C. Doyle, Livingston High School Library, CA
Toby's life in Port Jackson, England, is frankly weird. This makes it hard to concentrate on his recent good luck: getting his first gig for the unnamed two-man band that only plays Beatles' covers that he has started with best friend Zack. Toby is okay with being atypical, though, his attitude remaining light and carefree despite awkward experiences with girls and rugby. But the use of his older brother's guitar and other band equipment sets up a moral dilemma when Toby begins to slowly realize that all of it may be stolen. Compounding this, an unusual encounter resulting from a dare Zack proposes may lead to romance with Michelle, a feisty female with her own ideas of right and wrong. Briant has an ear for smart-aleck teen talk and keeps the first-person narration crisp. Through Toby's voice, he allows readers to make small leaps of understanding instead of relying on exposition. First love comes into the story sideways, as do entertaining characters; neither sidetracks the plot, which threads all the events together in a steadily satisfying manner. The focus is on romance, character and, above all, music. Even laid-back Toby is captured by the mystique of the Fender bass and the cloud surrounding its provenance. The witty nonchalance of both dialogue and narration keeps this rock-'n'-roll romp light and entertaining and successfully balances it with suspense. (Mystery. 12 & up)
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