OOM-PAH by William B. Crane


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Yes indeed, there's a lot of (California) high-school band uproar here--along with cut-out characters whom you'd otherwise peg as maybe sixth graders. The scrapping protagonists, though--big-Texas-tease Fred Chisholm and quick-on-the-trigger Darlene Carillo--have the novelty of being tuba players: the band's two tuba players. And while it gets tiresome to hear Darlene call Fred an ""oaf"" every time he calls her ""a little old frail,"" kids who play in a marching band may go along just for the fun of the practice-sessions, the pregame and half-time shows, and other ongoing activities--including a duet for two basses, ""The Two Bullfrogs,"" composed by author Crane, a former high-school band director himself. Presumably, too, he's the model for Buena Vista High's ""Tiny"" (6'2"") Green, a relentless, lame jokester who doesn't let Fred's clowning-or the other kids' foul-ups--get to him. He's also a creative teacher--per his Suicide Club Lottery to spur the kids to improve their playing. But that's about all that's going on midway through, the Darlene-Fred feud having somewhat abated; and the story sags before picking up on an entirely new note--withholding of funds from the band as an ""educational frill."" Some parents intervene, in league with Tiny and the kids, to get the band to the big Shrine East-West Game--where Fred, who's shed siren Ramona, cements himself with Darlene by calling her ""the spunkiest little gal this side of creation"" (for carrying the tuba all day without complaint). Hokey and stagy, then, except when the band steps out.

Pub Date: March 16th, 1981
Publisher: Atheneum