cover image King Dork

King Dork

Frank Portman, , read by Lincoln Hoppe, . Listening Library, $48 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7393-3113-2

This witty, biting and wholly memorable debut novel by punk singer/musician Portman (the Mr. T. Experience or MTX) was born to be an audiobook. Hoppe nails the brainy, cynical yet likable tone of teen narrator and aspiring songwriter/band god Tom Henderson. And Portman gets to strike some creative chords by performing five original acoustic songs penned by Tom (and mentioned throughout the narrative) to close the recording. But Tom's music obsession aside, it's his sharp and often hilarious observations about the cruelty and inanity that pervade his daily life at Hillmont High that will have listeners entranced. In between fantasizing about semi-hot girls and dreaming up ideas for the band with his friend Sam, taking ridiculously easy AP classes in French and social studies/humanities, and dodging bullies and mean teachers, Tom starts to investigate the circumstances behind his detective father's mysterious death. A funny thing: all roads—in school and outside of it—seem to lead to that 1950s novel that elicits a cult-like worship among academic and hipster types, The Catcher in the Rye . A secret code written in his late father's copy of the Salinger classic only complicates matters on every level, but listeners will want to stick around for the conclusion, especially to hear Tom's glossary—replete with mispronunciations mocking his teacher, and a bonus interview with the author. Ages 14-up. (Apr.)