The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy

( 2 )

Overview

Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art's Sake, that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art's Sake. But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on ...

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Overview

Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art's Sake, that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art's Sake. But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show. It's up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school. Along the way, they'll discover a web of secrets and corruption involving the principal, vice principal, and even their favorite teacher.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 06/23/2014
In Hattemer's smart, provocative, and highly entertaining debut, a group of friends rage against the reality-TV machine that has descended on their prestigious Minnesota arts high school. To say that Hattemer perfectly spoofs competition-based reality shows isn't quite right—from the manipulative "frankenbiting" editing to the For Art's Sake judges' sendoff catchphrase to eliminated contestants ("THAT WASN'T ART!"), the details are almost too spot-on for parody. Narration comes from junior Ethan Andrezejczak, a decently talented visual artist whose devotion to a hamster named Baconnaise, chaotically loving relationship with his triplet younger sisters, and appreciation for literary forms and devices add depth and humor to a story that's already full of meaty material as it explores the creation and corruption of art. As Ethan and his quick-witted friends use poetry to campaign against For Art's Sake (and some breaking and entering to investigate whether the show is on the up and up), readers are treated to a sharply funny account of how people can fall short (and come through), and how art can make a difference. Ages 12–up. Agent: Uwe Stender, TriadaUS Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Kim Dare
At Selwyn Academy, a high school specializing in the arts, Ethan Andrezejczak is an unassuming self-described member of the Untalented caste (decent at music and drawing, but not nearly on the same level artistically as Maura the dancer, Brandon the opera singer, and Broadway-bound Miki). Life is fairly predictable for Ethan and his friends until the beginning of their junior year. That is when they find out that kTV has selected their school to film For Art’s Sake!; a new reality show that will pit nineteen Selwyn students against each other to compete for a $100,000 scholarship. Most of the students are thrilled, but Ethan, Luke, Jackson, and Elizabeth quickly realize that having TV crews around 24/7 and turning students against each other is going to detract from what has been a pretty decent education. The administration stonewalls their criticism, so the four take their protests to the student body subversively. They have been studying Ezra Pound in English, and inspired by his Cantos, they chronicle the misadventures of FAS’s invasion in their own epic poem, The Contracantos. The narrative is sharp and witty and thought-provoking (readers learn a lot about Ezra Pound, not to mention revisionary mythopoesis, zeugma, anaphora, and interrobangs). The characters are fully developed, the ups and downs of the various friendships are honestly portrayed, and the whole story just shines. Reviewer: Kim Dare; Ages 14 up.
Voya Reviews, April 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 1) - Barbara Allen
What do you do when a reality TV show has taken over your school? If you are a student at the Selwyn Academy for the Arts, you use your artistic talents to protest. Ethan, Luke, Jackson, and Elizabeth are staunchly opposed to the TV show, For Art’s Sake, being filmed at their school. Nineteen of their classmates have been pitted against each other for a $100,000 scholarship and other prizes. These students are made to compete in various challenges and act out artificial drama for ratings. Ethan’s crush is made out to be the slut, and he does not appreciate his goddess being treated that way. During an English lesson on Ezra Pound and his poetry, Luke comes up with the idea to write a long poem about how horrible the show is. Luke, Jackson, Elizabeth, and Ethan use their talents to secretly print a poem called The Contracantos and give copies of it out to the student body. Luke is eventually found out as the author and added to the show, betraying his friends and his writing. The remaining friends find a way to put an end to the show and the underhanded dealings of the assistant principal who just may be getting more than is advertised from the show. Tricolons, espionage, and embezzlement: what is not to like? This brilliantly paced novel is a fresh look at life as an artistic teen. It delves into the reality of reality TV and demonstrates that not all is as it seems. These teens cope well with the situation and find creative ways to deal with the problems at hand. Breaking and entering is included in this hilarious story of friendship and poetry. Reviewer: Barbara Allen; Ages 11 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-02-19
Blending Ezra Pound, rhetoric and reality TV, this hilarious, subversive debut about a cadre of friends at an arts high school is a treat from cover to cover. In seventh grade, popular, good-looking Luke rescued Ethan, Jackson and Elizabeth from misfit nerd-dom. Four years later, Luke still leads while Narrator Ethan is cheerfully resigned to a spot in the "Untalented caste" at Selwyn Academy. Disturbing the status quo, the school's chosen to host a new reality TV show, a student talent competition with a $100,000 scholarship prize and a familiar format: interviews, clichéd romances and rivalries, and two smarmy hosts. The obsequious vice principal and most students are thrilled, but For Art's Sake feels like an insult to Ethan and friends. Luke, the most offended, leads a counterattack, writing guerilla poetry inspired by Pound's Cantos that ridicules the enterprise, which the conspirators secretly print at school. However, the masterminds behind reality TV are several steps ahead of them—money and fame are powerful currency, and they know how to use them. Maura, the beautiful, talented ballerina Ethan fancies, has been accepted at Juilliard, but without the scholarship, she can't attend—participating is a no-brainer. Ethan struggles with ethical conundrums (Does Pound's anti-Semitism invalidate his work? Are compromises the price of an arts career?) as he works out his own place in this world and among his friends, especially Elizabeth. A sparkling, timely tour of the complicated intersection where life meets art. (Fiction. 12 & up)
From the Publisher
Starred review, Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2014:
“A sparkling, timely tour of the complicated intersection where life meets art. . . . A treat from cover to cover.”

Starred review, Booklist, March 15, 2014:
“Relying on the passion and ideals that drive adolescence, this has a vibrancy and authenticity that will resonate with anyone who has fought for their beliefs—or who has loved a hamster. (You’ll see.)”

Starred review, VOYA, April 2014:
“Tricolons, espionage, and embezzlement: what is not to like? This brilliantly paced novel is a fresh look at life as an artistic teen. . . . [A] hilarious story of friendship and poetry.”

Starred review, The Bulletin, May 2014:
“Crackling, witty narration, free roaming between hyperintellectual allusion (including Latinate plays on words) and shout-outs to Candyland and Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, will immediately grip fans of Frank Portman and John Green. . . . Irresistible.”
 
Starred review, Publishers Weekly, June 23, 2014:
“The tension between cynicism and naïveté, knowledge and innocence in these brainy but still maturing kids is astutely evoked, and readers will be right there alongside them for every protest, misstep, and loss.”

School Library Journal
03/01/2014
Gr 8 Up—Ethan Andrezejczak is a junior at a Minnesota arts school that is hosting a competitive "reality" television show starring its students. Ethan strikes just the right note of teenage hesitancy and the shrug of paralyzed inaction so common to many stalled in the years leading to adulthood. Ethan tells the story about how he wound up attending the school, with his limited talent at drawing and music. His friends consist of the truly talented writer Luke, brainy Jackson, and stylishly dreadlocked Elizabeth. When their inspiring English teacher introduces them to Ezra Pound's Cantos, Luke composes a long poem that voices his outcry against the corrupting influence of the sleazy TV people capitalizing on their school's art and integrity. He pulls his friends into clandestine raids on the school's printing press and distributes his protest poem to the student body. Being a part of the reality show rebellion energizes Ethan, even though his crush, ballerina Maura, is one of the leading contestants. The group discovers just how deeply the school administration is in league with the show's producers, and a surprising betrayal leaves Ethan bewildered with little solace beyond the distractions of his zany preschool triplet sisters and a sickly gerbil that does tricks. With a quirky cast of characters set against a reality television invasion, the ample humor and realistic angst make this an enjoyable story.—Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385753784
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 4/8/2014
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 117,858
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

KATE HATTEMER taught high school Latin for three years and now works at an independent bookstore in Cincinnati. She delivered an epic poem at her university graduation ceremony. The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy is her first book.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2014

    I loved this book. Even the minor characters have depth. It ha

    I loved this book. Even the minor characters have depth. It has a balance of comedy, drama, and heartbreak that reminds me of a John Green novel.
    The narrator tries so hard to be self-aware -- and it's really funny to be reading his words, realizing that he can tell us what is going on while he still often really doesn't have a clue.

    I laughed out loud multiple times while reading this book, but -- without spoiling the ending -- it's not one of those books where everything gets tied up in neat little ribbons at the end. The narrator very much stays in character, and even in epilogue, he can only tell us about things within his scope of knowledge -- and within his limited awareness.

    The other thing I really liked about this book is that it inspired me to try harder. There is a recurring refrain about not wanting to get to the end of your life and say "I should have been able to do better." It applies (and is applied here) to big things, but it applies to little things as well. Two of the characters have a conversation about drawing -- and one points out that people say they can't draw, but often they never really tried. They were crappy at it in third grade and gave up. This book makes me want to try harder, so I don't get to the end of my life and say "I should have been able to do better." I read it a week ago, and I'm still carrying that feeling with me. Pretty amazing for a novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2014

    I love it

    So amazingly written and proportioned. Had no complaints reading this book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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