________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 5 . . . . October 5, 2012


Call the Shots.

Don Calame.
Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press (Distributed in Canada by Random House Canada), 2012.
457 pp., hardcover & e-book, $20.00 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7636-5556-3 (hc.), ISBN 978-0-7636-6185-4 (e-book).

Grades 8-10 / Ages 13-15.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



I’ve got to figure out a way to get enough money so that we can build an extension.

And fast.

“All right,” I say, glancing at Coop. “Tell me more about this movie idea of yours.”

Coops sweatshirt-hooded head snaps toward me. “Ha! Knew it! They always come back begging.”

“Sean, you can’t be serious,” Matt says, looking at me like I’ve totally lost it. Which maybe I have.

“I don’t know,” I say. “I’m just gathering info.” I look at Coop again. “How easy do you think it’d be to sell a movie?”

Coop laughs like I’ve just asked him if it might be fun to see two smokin’ babes hot-fudge wrestling in a giant bowl of ice cream. “Are you kidding” As long as it’s halfway deece, someone will snatch it up. I mean, have you seen some of the crap-o-latte they trot out? There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to perpetuate the same kind of fraud and rake in the magic chips.”

“So, you don’t even want to make a good movie?” Matt snickers. “Well, at least that sounds like a realistic goal.”

“You’re obviously missing the point, Matthew,” Coop says. “The idea is to make something that will sell. Quality is secondary. And maybe not even that important.

“But you do know how to sell it? I ask. Once we’ve got the thing made?”

Matt stares at me. “Sean, why are you encouraging him? We killed this idea Saturday night.”

“Yeah, well, my situation has drastically changed since Saturday. I need a whole load of cash, and I need it PDQ.”

Friends since kindergarten, Matt Gratton, Sean Hance and Cooper Redmond, who are grade 10 students at Lower Rockville High, have featured in Calame’s two previous novels, Swim the Fly (Vol. XVII, No. 2, September 10, 2010) and Beat the Band (Vol. XVII, No. 3., September 17, 2010). Since Matt played the leading role in Swim the Fly and Coop was front and center in Beat the Band, it is only appropriate that the trilogy conclude with Sean’s close-up role. Again, however, it is one of Coop’s “ideas” that launches the plot. After having researched filmmaking on the Internet for a whole, entire hour, Coop announces, “We’re going to make a cheap-ass horror film...,” something which Copp thinks “will take a week. Two at the most.” Since a number of independent, low budget horror flicks had grossed millions of dollars, Coop is certain that “[t]here’s no reason why we can’t do exactly the same thing.” The first step on their road to riches is having their film win one of the three $50,000 prizes being offered at a film festival in New York City in two months time.

      Sean is initially quite unenthusiastic about Coop’s horror film project, but then his mother announces that she’s going to have a baby and that Sean’s room will become the baby’s room. And where is Sean to be relocated? He’s to share his twin sister’s bedroom! No, Call the Shots does not turn into a V. C. Andrews novel, but Sean is sufficiently revolted by his parents’ plan that he sees making Coop’s horror film and winning one of the film festival prizes as being his only way to generate enough money to allow his cash-strapped family to remodel the house and create a separate bedroom for him. And so the trio embark on the making of Zonkey.

      The book’s title is ironic as Sean really never gets to call the shots as circumstances always seem to leave someone else controlling what’s happening. Though the major plot focuses on the creation of the film, Calame includes a number of subplots, with one involving Sean’s increasingly complicated love life. Characters from the two previous novels reappear, but Calame introduces new players, including Evelyn Moss, Sean’s self-appointed and “weird” girlfriend, plus her older and overly-protective brother, Nick, a US Navy SEAL who is presently on stress leave because of “a tendency towards ‘outbursts’.” Another subplot involves the ongoing statements by Cathy, Sean’s “older” sibling (by nine minutes), that Sean is gay and that he should come out, when, in fact, it is she who is hiding her sexual orientation.

      Even longer than Beat the Band, which, in turn, had been longer than Swim the Fly, Call the Shots is, nevertheless, a fast, and at times, laugh-out-loud read as the novel’s brief, reader-engaging chapters just fly by. As I noted in my review of Swim the Fly, perhaps it is Calame’s experience as a screenwriter that actually makes Call the Shots seem like such a quick read as each short chapter works well as a stand-alone scene while also contributing to advancing the overall storyline.

      Adolescent males can read Call the Shots without having read either of the other two books, but those who are familiar with the content of Swim the Fly and/or Beat the Band will recognize Calame’s references to previous happenings. Though Call the Shots does bring the friends’ trilogy to a conclusion, the final solution to Sean’s bedroom situation could just be the “vehicle” needed to allow the trio’s adventures to continue.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, CM‘s editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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