King Dork by Frank PortmanKing Dork by Frank Portman

King Dork

byFrank Portman

Paperback | February 12, 2008

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King Dork will rock your world.” --John Green, New York Times bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars

When Tom Henderson finds his dead 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) finds himself in the middle of 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.)
 
This unruly cult classic features song lyrics throughout and now includes a glossary and a bandography. And look for the sequel, King Dork Approximtely, available now.

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

“Loaded with sharp and offbeat humor.”—USA Today
 
“Original, heartfelt, and sparkling with wit and intelligence. This novel will linger long in readers’ memories.”—School Library Journal, Starred Review
 
“A biting and witty high-school satire.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
 
“Tom’s narration is piercingly satirical and acidly witty.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Starred Review
 
“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
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 Facebo...
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Title:King DorkFormat:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.76 inPublished:February 12, 2008Publisher:Random House Children's BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385734506

ISBN - 13:9780385734509

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from A-OK I read this back in high school and loved it! I think the biggest strength in Portman's novel is his characterization and especially how he writes the friendship between Tom and Sam. Even as a girl, I appreciated the dorky boy bildungsroman element, though I'm not sure if I would love it as much eight years later. I think it's definitely a frank narrative on teen feelings towards literature and sexuality; it felt very real to me at the time. I'd definitely recommend this to teens, and perhaps especially to a teen who doesn't read much but needs a book for an English project.
Date published: 2017-02-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Sounds more like the authors dream than anything I gave this a shot a while ago and I read the entire book hoping it wold get better. It did not. Okay, I get teenage boys are supposed to be obsessed with girls and stuff, but seriously this "dork" ha like a bunch of chicks want him. Maybe it's because I'm not the target audience, but I was very disappointed in this book.
Date published: 2017-02-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from This Book did not Rock my World. It has more rave reviews in the press than most books including "impossibly brilliant". How do I know this? It is right on the front cover. I just didn't really get this book. I am not a teenage boy obsessed with rock 'n roll, guitars, b-jobs and girls, filled with angst at being the King Dork so maybe I am not the target audience. Duh. But still. It was a chore for me to read. I liked some of it. Tom Henderson, called Chi-Mo or Moe (derivations of child molester a nickname he got when it said clergy on his career planning aptitude test) is a huge loser with one friend who has had to sit next to due to alphabetical reasons for years. They have a "band". That is to say, they spend of a lot of time naming it, designing logos and album covers, and coming up with cool song names, but it is halfway through the book before either of them gets an instrument (or an electric one at least). Tom's dad died - in a mysterious fashion - and Tom has found his old copy of Catcher in the Rye (which Tom hates but knows all adults love and think it changed their lives) and a secret coded message and most of the book is focused on solving this code and the mystery of his father - who he was, what was the message about, how did he die. Some of his descriptions of school, and bullying and life in general are spot on and hilarious (especially the glossary at the back of the book) but some of it is so unbelievable (including the willingness of 2 different girls to give him (King of the Dorks (in his own mind anyway, most would think of him as an average total loser) b-jobs.) I think this is a book a lot of people will love but I wasn't one of them. It reminds me a bit of The Perks of Being a Wallflower in that people love that book and it just left me cold. I really did like the other two books listed below and I think they would be enjoyed a lot by fans of this book.
Date published: 2008-05-19

Read from the Book

AugustKING DORKThey 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 femininity of another. Though why he decided to pick on Sam Hellerman as part of his personal battle against his own body image remains a mystery.I'm just glad it's not me who gets called Peggy, because who needs it?There's always a bit of suspense about the particular way in which a given school year will get off to a bad start.This year, it was an evil omen, like when druids observe an owl against the moon in the first hour of Samhain and conclude that a grim doom awaits the harvest. That kind of thing can set the tone for the rest of the year. What I'm getting at is, the first living creature Sam Hellerman and I encountered when we penetrated the school grounds on the first day of school was none other than Mr. Teone.The sky seemed suddenly to darken.We were walking past the faculty parking, and he was seated in his beat-up '93 Geo Prizm, struggling to force his supersized body through the open car door. We hurried past, but he noticed us just as he finally squeezed through. He stood by the car, panting heavily from the effort and trying to tuck his shirt into his pants so that it would stay in for longer than a few seconds."Good morning, Peggy," he said to Sam Hellerman. "So you decided to risk another year." He turned to me and bellowed: "Henderson!" Then he did this big theatrical salute and waddled away, laughing to himself.He always calls me by my last name and he always salutes. Clearly, mocking me and Sam Hellerman is more important than the preservation of his own dignity. He seems to consider it to be part of his job. Which tells you just about everything you need to know about Hillmont High School society.It could be worse. Mr. Donnelly, PE teacher and sadist supreme, along with his jabbering horde of young sports troglodytes-in-training, never bother with Moe or Peggy, and they don't salute. They prefer to say "pussy" and hit you on the ear with a cupped palm. According to an article called "Physical Interrogation Techniques" in one of my magazines (Today's Mercenary), this can cause damage to the eardrum and even death when applied accurately. But Mr. Donnelly and his minions are not in it for the accuracy. They operate on pure, mean-spirited, status-conscious instinct, which usually isn't very well thought out. Lucky for me they're so poorly trained, or I'd be in big trouble.But there's no point fretting about what people call you. Enough ill will can turn anything into an attack. Even your own actual name."I think he's making fun of your army coat," said Sam Hellerman as we headed inside. Maybe that was it. I admit, I did look a little silly in the coat, especially since I hardly ever took it off, even in the hottest weather. I couldn't take it off, for reasons I'll get to in a bit.

Editorial Reviews

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   “Just the thing for those snarky teens.”—People   “King Dork is smart, funny, occasionally raunchy and refreshingly clear about what it’s like to be in high school.”—San Francisco Chronicle   “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.” —Megan McCafferty, author of Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, and Charmed Thirds   “Frank Portman . . . proves to be a born storyteller in this hilarious coming-of-age novel.”—Chicago Sun-Times   “The author’s biting humor and skillful connection of events will keep pages turning.”—Publishers Weekly   “Inventive and sexy, [King Dork is] fun to read and provides endless food for thought—everything I want from a book.” —Melvin Burgess, author of Doing It and Smack   “Portman . . . scores with a debut novel that’s funny, sharp, and spot-on at portraying a teen who sees musical stardom as more attainable than scoring with a girl.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer   “A modern and arguably better (yes, I said it) version of the J. D. Salinger staple.”—American Way   “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.” —Ned Vizzini, author of It’s Kind of a Funny Story    “The MySpace generation’s Catcher in the Rye.”—Gawker.com   “The ironically self-crowned dork narrator is a terrific guide through the scary world of high school.”—E! Online   “Channeling the wisdom of a cynical rock sophisticate through the voice of a self-conscious fourteen-year-old misfit, Frank Portman has created a winning post-punk Hardy Boy equal.”-Ira Robbins, TrouserPress.com  “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.”—Neal Pollack, author of Never Mind the Pollacks: A Rock and Roll Novel   “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.”—Whitney Matheson in USA Today’s Pop Candy   “This pitch-perfect mixture of Veronica Mars and Freaks and Geeks exudes realistic, self-aware teen angst on every page, and should be a permanent addition to libraries alongside Brighton Rock, A Separate Peace . . . and even Catcher.”—The Oregonian   “The magic of King Dork lies in its cutting satire and narrative voice. It smartly skewers just about every aspect of the educational system. For readers who have suffered through a pep rally, detention or English class, Portman’s arrival is cause for regal glee.”—The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)   “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.”—SF Weekly