Hooray! The lovely and funny Kate Hattemer is releasing her debut novel, The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy out into the world tomorrow!
We here at the BookYArd are thrilled to sound its barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world! (Yep, this book has gotten me so excited that I’m quoting Whitman.)
We’re yawping, Steve, not yelling… and here’s why:
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.
I bet now you want your very own copy of The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy. Well, you’re in luck, here’s where you can get it:
And as if that’s not enough, check out what KIRKUS REVIEW had to say about it:
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)
Or, to translate for Andy Samberg fans:
So, just who is the woman who wrote this amazing book? Here’s the nutshell version:
The oldest of eight siblings, Kate grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. She attended Yale and taught high-school Latin in Virginia before returning to Cincinnati, where she now works at an independent bookstore. The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, out in April 2014 from Knopf, is a contemporary YA novel about reality TV, an arts school, Ezra Pound, and a heroic gerbil. In spring 2015, Knopf will publish her second novel, The Land of Ten Thousand Madonnas.
For more about Kate, check out her website where she talks books, obscure grammatical rules, and life on a pogo-stick.
Finally, here are a few words from members of the BookYArd about why we’re so ding-dang excited to get this book in our hands.
“What an awesome, unique concept! Love the idea of getting a truly behind-the-scenes look at some of the people caught up in one of those crazy reality T.V. shows. And a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise? If I hadn’t already been sold on this book’s premise, that line would have clenched the deal.” — Stefanie Gaither, Falls the Shadow
“Who doesn’t want to read about vigilante poetry in action? This is like Victor Hugo and Maya Angelou’s artsy lovechild with a hamster sidekick. This is looking to be a great commentary on friendship, on standing up to one’s own principles at the cost of fame and money and, of course, on poking fun at the unrealness and strange dichotomy of reality shows!” — Rin Chupeco, The Girl from the Well
“Vigilante poets?! How could I not be looking forward to this? I love academy-type settings where students make clever mischief. I might be totally off, but this strikes me as a modernized cross between The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys and Dead Poets Society, with a lot of humor thrown into the mix. I can’t wait!” — AdriAnne Strickland, Wordless
“This book has Ezra Pound poetry, reality television, and a heroic gerbil. ‘Nuff said. If that hasn’t convinced you, did I mention the gerbil is named Baconnaise? Yes, I *will* join you in your dance of delighted glee.” — Skylar Dorset, The Girl from the Well
“I don’t have to read past the title to know I want to eat this book whole. The fact that Kirkus calls it ‘hilarious’ and ‘subversive’ just makes me want to drink it too.” — Mary Crockett, coauthor Dream Boy