Beat the Band

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

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