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King Dork
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King Dork
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As John Green, New York Times bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars said, “King Dork will rock your world.” The cult favorite from Frank Portman, aka Dr. Frank of the Mr. T....
As John Green, New York Times bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars said, “King Dork will rock your world.” The cult favorite from Frank Portman, aka Dr. Frank of the Mr. T....
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Description-

  • As John Green, New York Times bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars said, “King Dork will rock your world.” The cult favorite from Frank Portman, aka Dr. Frank of the Mr. T. Experience, is a book like nothing ever done before—King Dork literally has something for everyone: At least a half-dozen mysteries, love, mistaken identity, girls, monks, books, blood, bubblegum, and rock and roll. This book is based on music—a passion most kids have—and it has original (hilarious) songs and song lyrics throughout.
       When Tom Henderson finds his deceased father’s copy of J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, his world is turned upside down. Suddenly high school gets more complicated: Tom (aka King Dork) is in the middle of at least half a dozen mysteries involving dead people, naked people, fake people, a secret code, girls, and rock and roll. As he goes through sophomore year, he finds clues that may very well solve the puzzle of his father’s death and—oddly—reveal the secret to attracting semi-hot girls (the secret might be being in a band, if he can find a drummer who can count to four.
       A brilliant story told in first person, King Dork includes a glossary and a bandography, which readers will find helpful and hilarious.

    Praise for King Dork:

    “Basically, if you are a human being with even a vague grasp of the English language, King Dork, will rock your world.”—John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars
     
    “[No account of high school] has made me laugh more than King Dork. . . . Grade A.”—Entertainment Weekly
     
    “Impossibly brilliant.”—Time
    “Provides a window into what it would be like if Holden Caulfield read The Catcher in the Rye.”—New York Post
    [STAR] “Original, heartfelt, and sparkling with wit and intelligence. This novel will linger long in readers’ memories.”—School Library Journal, Starred
     
    [STAR] “A biting and witty high-school satire.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred
     
    [STAR] “Tom’s narration is piercingly satirical and acidly witty.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Starred
     
    “Loaded with sharp and offbeat humor.”—USA Today
     
    “King Dork is smart, funny, occasionally raunchy and refreshingly clear about what it’s like to be in high school.”—San Francisco Chronicle
     
    King Dork: Best Punk Rock Book Ever.”—The Village Voice
     
    “I love this book as much as I hated high school, and that’s some of the highest praise I can possibly give.”—Bookslut.com
 

Awards-

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    AugustKING DORK

    They call me King Dork.

    Well, let me put it another way: no one ever actually calls me King Dork. It's how I refer to myself in my head, a silent protest and an acknowledgment of reality at the same time. I don't command a nerd army, or preside over a realm of the socially ill-equipped. I'm small for my age, young for my grade, uncomfortable in most situations, nearsighted, skinny, awkward, and nervous. And no good at sports. So Dork is accurate. The King part is pure sarcasm, though: there's nothing special or ultimate about me. I'm generic. It's more like I'm one of the kings in a pack of crazy, backward playing cards, designed for a game where anyone who gets me automatically loses the hand. I mean, everything beats me, even twos and threes.

    I suppose I fit the traditional mold of the brainy, freaky, oddball kid who reads too much, so bright that his genius is sometimes mistaken for just being retarded. I know a lot of trivia, and I often use words that sound made-up but that actually turn out to be in the dictionary, to everyone's surprise--but I can never quite manage to keep my shoes tied or figure out anything to say if someone addresses me directly. I play it up. It's all I've got going for me, and if a guy can manage to leave the impression that his awkwardness arises from some kind of deep or complicated soul, why not go for it? But, I admit, most of the time, I walk around here feeling like a total idiot.

    Most people in the world outside my head know me as Moe, even though my real name is Tom. Moe isn't a normal nickname. It's more like an abbreviation, short for Chi-Mo. And even that's an abbreviation for something else.

    Often, when people hear "Chi-Mo" they'll smile and say, "Hippie parents?" I never know what to say to that because yes, my folks are more hippie than not, but no, that's not where the name comes from.

    Chi-Mo is derogatory, though you wouldn't necessarily know that unless you heard the story behind it. Yet even those who don't know the specific story can sense its dark origins, which is why it has held on for so long. They get a kick out of it without really knowing why. Maybe they notice me wincing when I hear them say it, but I don't know: there are all sorts of reasons I could be wincing. Life is a wince-a-thon.
    There's a list of around thirty or forty supposedly insulting things that people have called me that I know about, past and present, and a lot of them are way worse than Moe. Some are classic and logical, like Hender-pig, Hender-fag, or Hender-fuck. Some are based on jokes or convoluted theories of offensiveness that are so retarded no one could ever hope to understand them. Like Sheepie. Figure that one out and you win a prize. As for Chi-Mo, it goes all the way back to the seventh grade, and it wouldn't even be worth mentioning except for the fact that this particular nickname ended up playing an unexpectedly prominent role in the weird stuff that happened toward the end of this school term. So, you know, I thought I'd mention it.

    Mr. Teone, the associate principal for the ninth and tenth grades, always refers to Sam Hellerman as Peggy. I guess he's trying to imply that Sam Hellerman looks like a girl. Well, okay, so maybe Sam Hellerman does look a little like a girl in a certain way, but that's not the point.

    In fact, Mr. Teone happens to have a huge rear end and pretty prominent man boobs, and looks way more like a lady than Sam Hellerman ever could unless he were to gain around two hundred pounds and start a course of hormone therapy. Clearly, he's trying to draw attention away from his own nontraditionally gendered form factor by focusing on the alleged...

About the Author-

  • Frank Portman (aka Dr. Frank) is also the author of Andromeda Klein and the singer/songwriter/guitarist of the influential East Bay punk band the Mr. T. Experience (MTX). MTX has released about a dozen albums since forming in the mid-1980s. Frank lives in Oakland, California. Visit him online at frankportman.com, look for him on Facebook, and follow @frankportman on Twitter.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 13, 2006
    Told from the perspective of Tom, a "brainy, freaky, oddball kid who reads too much, so bright that his genius is sometimes mistaken for just being retarded," this debut novel expresses a cynical view of high-school life and a teen's passion for rock music. Much of the story focuses on a seemingly endless string of humiliations and tortures dished out by Tom's teachers and sadistic "psychotic normal" classmates. A more compelling and subtly drawn subplot details mysteries that Tom is trying to solve: Was his father's death a few years earlier really an accident? What is the meaning of the coded messages found in his father's copy of The Catcher in the Rye
    ? (The key role of Salinger's novel is hinted at by this book's telltale vintage burgundy cover, on which "King Dork" is written over Salinger's title.) When he's not playing Sherlock Holmes or dodging bullies (the types who "try to trip you anonymously and knock you over as you go by in the hallway"), Tom daydreams about the band he plans to form with his only friend Sam. Budding rock musicians and students with a grudge against the public-high-school scene will most relate to Tom's narrative. If the protagonist's battle with peers and a tyrannical associate principal grows a little tedious at times, the author's biting humor and skillful connection of events will keep pages turning. Ages 14-up.

  • Library Journal

    August 25, 2009
    Tom "Chi-Mo" Henderson is the King Dork at his suburban high school, where every English teacher worships at the altar of The Catcher in the Rye. Tom believes that their affection is misguided until he finds his late father's battered copy in a box in the garage. The book starts an adventure that involves "dead people, naked people, fake people, teen sex, weird sex, drugs, ESP, Satanism.." You get the picture. Why It Is for Us: The best moments in this book play on the stupid ways we grown-ups try to stay connected to the teens in our lives. Tom's stepfather (also a Tom, "Little Big Tom") is a good man with the hard job of helping bring a smart, cynical, music-lovin' Dork to adulthood. A chronology of band names (Tom and his best friend, Sam, go through 25 names for their band in five months) and a glossary (with delightfully mish-mashed pronunciations) end the book on an uproarious note. You'll never hear the song "Glad All Over" in the same way again. Be sure to catch Portman's next book, Andromeda Klein, out this month.-Angelina Benedetti, King Cty. Lib. Syst., WA

    Copyright 2009 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from April 1, 2006
    Gr 10 Up -Original, heartfelt, and sparkling with wit and intelligence, this debut novel tells the story of a 14-year-old outsider, Tom Henderson. For him, life is a series of humiliations, from the associate principal who mocks him to the popular girls who put him on their -Dud list. - The teen takes refuge in music, writing songs, and inventing band names with his only friend, Sam. He looks for a copy of "The Catcher in the Rye" in a box of books left by his father, a detective who died under strange circumstances. Tom sets out to read each volume, decode the secret messages that he finds, and figure out who his father really was. The daily torments of life at Hillmont High School play out brilliantly in ways that are both hilarious and heartbreaking. Sexual references and encounters abound, and the language is frank -oral sex is a frequent topic, as is drug use by teens and adults -but none of it is gratuitous. The plot unfolds at a leisurely pace, with digressions on music, popular culture, high school customs, literary criticism, and general philosophical observations, but Tom is so engaging that most readers won't mind. He's intellectually far above most of his peers but still recognizably a teen in his obsessions. The plot's mysteries come together for a conclusion that is satisfying but doesn't tie up all the loose ends. This dazzling novel will linger long in readers' memories." -Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library"

    Copyright 2006 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    May 15, 2006
    Gr. 9-12. From its subtle cover, featuring the title superimposed over the yellow lettering on a vintage red copy of " Catcher in the Rye," to its intelligent, self-deprecating, opinionated narrator, Portman's novel is a humorous, scathing indictment of the current public education system. Sophomore Tom Henderson is bored with AP classes in which creating international foods and a "collage and Catcher" curriculum pass for academic instruction. What does he do to engage his mind? Along with his best friend, he invents a new band every few hours--a band name, cover art, song titles--no matter that neither boy owns a guitar. The guys aren't popular; they're picked on by the alpha sadists in gym class and nicknamed in humiliating ways, but they still survive. A mystery about the death of Tom's father and the caricatured assistant principal's illicit activities are weakly executed, but Tom's voice carries the story. Mature situations, casual sexual experiences, and allusions to Salinger suggest an older teen audience, who will also best appreciate the appended bandography and the very funny glossary. (Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2006, American Library Association.)

  • John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars Praise for King Dork:

    "Basically, if you are a human being with even a vague grasp of the English language, King Dork, will rock your world."
  • Entertainment Weekly "[No account of high school] has made me laugh more than King Dork. . . . Grade A."
  • Time "Impossibly brilliant."
  • New York Post "Provides a window into what it would be like if Holden Caulfield read The Catcher in the Rye."
  • School Library Journal, Starred [STAR] "Original, heartfelt, and sparkling with wit and intelligence. This novel will linger long in readers' memories."
  • Kirkus Reviews, Starred [STAR] "A biting and witty high-school satire."
  • The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Starred [STAR] "Tom's narration is piercingly satirical and acidly witty."
  • USA Today "Loaded with sharp and offbeat humor."
  • San Francisco Chronicle "King Dork is smart, funny, occasionally raunchy and refreshingly clear about what it's like to be in high school."
  • The Village Voice "King Dork: Best Punk Rock Book Ever."
  • Bookslut.com "I love this book as much as I hated high school, and that's some of the highest praise I can possibly give."
  • People "Just the thing for those snarky teens."
  • San Francisco Chronicle "King Dork is smart, funny, occasionally raunchy and refreshingly clear about what it's like to be in high school."
  • Megan McCafferty, author of Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, and Charmed Thirds "This is the funniest, freshest, most original book of any kind that I have read in a very long time. It's so damn good that I'm just happy there are people like Frank Portman writing books. Period."
  • Chicago Sun-Times "Frank Portman . . . proves to be a born storyteller in this hilarious coming-of-age novel."
  • Publishers Weekly "The author's biting humor and skillful connection of events will keep pages turning."
  • American Way "A modern and arguably better (yes, I said it) version of the J. D. Salinger staple."
  • Ned Vizzini, author of It's Kind of a Funny Story "King Dork is unique: a detective-story ode to hormones, teenage bands, and the books they made you read in high school. Hilarious, unflinching, and surprising from start to finish."
  • Gawker.com "The MySpace generation's Catcher in the Rye."
  • E! Online "The ironically self-crowned dork narrator is a terrific guide through the scary world of high school."
  • Neal Pollack, author of Never Mind the Pollacks: A Rock and Roll Novel "A funny, pointed poke in the eye to the bloated Catcher in the Rye cult, and also a fine alienated teen novel in its own right."
  • Whitney Matheson in USA Today's Pop Candy "A funny, intelligent, inspiring, can't-even-put-it-down-when-I-go-to-the-bathroom story. Seriously, I vowed to only write about this well-publicized book after I read it myself, and I'm happy to report that it's worth the hype."
  • SF Weekly "Frank Portman takes on the high-school coming-of-age story with enough music what-for to satisfy the most ardent of music snobs. He also cuts to pieces Catcher in the Rye, a job you might not have known needed to be done."

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    Random House Children's Books
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