King of the Creeps

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Overview

Tom is an undersized nerd with an oversized nose. He’s got frizzy hair and glasses. He’s the flag monitor. He knows it—he’s a creep. What girl will ever like him?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. Tom may not look like a movie star, but he does look an awful lot like that new folksinger everyone is wild for. So he heads for Greenwich Village, and is soon the proud owner of a cheap guitar.

What follows is an increasingly outrageous ...

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Overview

Tom is an undersized nerd with an oversized nose. He’s got frizzy hair and glasses. He’s the flag monitor. He knows it—he’s a creep. What girl will ever like him?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. Tom may not look like a movie star, but he does look an awful lot like that new folksinger everyone is wild for. So he heads for Greenwich Village, and is soon the proud owner of a cheap guitar.

What follows is an increasingly outrageous sequence of events where Tom fools the girl, learns a song, plays in a coffee house, gets tapped for the Ed Sullivan Show, loses his nerve, loses the girl, and wrestles with his conscience. But he discovers that sometimes, if you pretend to be brave hard enough, you can even fool yourself. And that given the right circumstances, even a creep can change the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
How does a skinny, frizzy-haired nerd from New Jersey manage to win a few minutes of fame as well as a pretty girl? The answer can be found in this hilarious account of improbable events. Here, Banks, former head writer for SpongeBob SquarePants, takes readers back to 1963 to meet self-proclaimed "creep" Tom. As the story opens, the hero is considering jumping off the George Washington Bridge: "I had a good reason. I was seventeen years old. At seventeen everybody has at least one reason. I had about a hundred and forty." But instead of making a splash in the Hudson River, Tom decides to try his hand at guitar-playing and folksinging after he sees a picture of Bob Dylan and decides the two of them look alike. Most of the action takes place in Greenwich Village, where Tom buys his first guitar, learns one chord and meets "a real live Greenwich Village girl," who encourages Tom to put her poetry to music. One thing leads to another; Tom books his first gig at a coffeehouse and ends up getting invited to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. While baby boomers will be more apt to appreciate references to the era (as when Tom has a run-in with singer Tiny Tim) than contemporary teens, readers will still find plenty to chuckle about as they trace Tom's whirlwind trip in and out of the spotlight. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Carrie Hane Hung
It is 1963 and seventeen-year-old Tom has an incredible list of reasons for jumping off the George Washington Bridge—his new glasses, frizzy hair, big nose, and more. Tom sees himself as a creep, until he sees a picture of Bob Dylan on the record album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. On the album cover, the folksinger has the same "creep" features, yet there is a girl attentively hanging on Bob Dylan's arm. He also overhears two girls cooing over Bob Dylan. So in his plans to attract the females, Tom decides to become a folksinger. On a Saturday, Tom begins his folksinger transformation and heads out to Greenwich Village to buy a guitar. After establishing his new folksinger image, Tom is robbed and left with an empty guitar case. While in his misery, he meets Angelina and the events in his life take an interesting turn leading up to The Ed Sullivan Show. The light and funny story includes touches about the sixties, such as the civil rights movement and the Kennedy assassination.
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-The creator of SpongeBob SquarePants and the "Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" comic-book series has written a novel that reads like a comic book without pictures. At 17, Tom Johnson is a nerdy guy who wishes he were cool. The book takes place in New York City in 1963, at the time of the Kennedy assassination, beatniks, and the folk scene. Discovering that he looks like a folksinger, the teen pretends that he is one. Then, a slew of coincidental events whirl him through the story. In the end, he gets a gig on The Ed Sullivan Show and gets what he wanted most-a girlfriend. Characterization is not Banks's strong suit. All of the male figures in the story sound exactly alike. Even Tom has been created with the broad strokes of a cartoon character, but with slightly more complexity. Even so, King of the Creeps is a quick and enjoyable read. Reluctant readers and those who favor comedy or who are into graphic novels should especially enjoy it.-Catherine Ensley, Latah County Free Library District, Moscow, ID Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Seventeen-year-old Tommy Johnson thinks he's a creep. His nose is too large, he's too skinny, too short and his hair frizzes. These are the reasons he's never dated, held hands or kissed a girl, and now he has to wear glasses. 1963 is shaping up to be the worst year of his life; Tommy might as well throw himself off the George Washington Bridge. On his way there, something makes him stop and look in the window of Grayson's Music, where he sees an album cover with a guy like him (Bob Dylan), walking arm-in-arm with a beautiful girl. Eureka! If he were a folksinger (or just looked like one), he could get a girl. Tommy goes to Greenwich Village, buys a cheap guitar, learns one chord and meets Angelina. Through a simple twist of fate (or about 20 of them), he ends up on national TV and gets the girl. The head writer for Sponge Bob, among other Nickelodeon shows, Banks has produced a laugh-out-loud, hormone-saturated misadventure. Tommy's not always the most likable ubergeek antihero, but by story's end he's redeemed himself. Inventive and wholly unbelievable, but fun from beginning to end. (Fiction. 12-15)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375832918
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 5/9/2006
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 8.53 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 2, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Long Nguyen for TeensReadToo.com

    Tom Johnson is short, has a big nose, and even has frizzy hair to top it all off. Put quite simply, in Tom's own words, he's a Creep. Set against the immediate post-JFK assassination in 1963, Tom finds himself on his way to a local bridge to jump off following a traumatic Creep-related event. But on his way he finds himself staring across at a record of some folk singer that's short, has a big nose, and frizzy hair to top it all off -- Bob Dylan! <BR/><BR/>Inspired by his sudden revelation of his resemblance to the legendary folk singer, Tom decides to become a folk singer, too, and make something of himself. He buys a guitar and only has time to learn one chord before a number of things happen, one of which is his meeting Angelina: the groovy, deep poet who might actually be interested in him. Before Tom knows what has happened, he and his one-chord show have a chance to do something big, something important, something Tom doesn't know if even he wants to do. <BR/><BR/>In his fun and straight-ahead debut novel, Steven Banks tells the story of a new kind of protagonist who must decide for himself what the right thing to do is. KING OF THE CREEPS is a story of lame right-wing jokes, the New York folk scene in Greenwich Village, learning to speak up for yourself, getting the girl, and ultimately deciding your own fate -- and making it count. Banks himself knows twenty-eight guitar chords. <BR/><BR/>Cheers to S.B.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    A reviewer

    Tom Johnson is short, has a big nose, and even has frizzy hair to top it all off. Put quite simply, in Tom's own words, he's a Creep. Set against the immediate post-JFK assassination in 1963, Tom finds himself on his way to a local bridge to jump off following a traumatic Creep-related event. But on his way he finds himself staring across at a record of some folk singer that's short, has a big nose, and frizzy hair to top it all off -- Bob Dylan! Inspired by his sudden revelation of his resemblance to the legendary folk singer, Tom decides to become a folk singer, too, and make something of himself. He buys a guitar and only has time to learn one chord before a number of things happen, one of which is his meeting Angelina: the groovy, deep poet who might actually be interested in him. Before Tom knows what has happened, he and his one-chord show have a chance to do something big, something important, something Tom doesn't know if even he wants to do. In his fun and straight-ahead debut novel, Steven Banks tells the story of a new kind of protagonist who must decide for himself what the right thing to do is. KING OF THE CREEPS is a story of lame right-wing jokes, the New York folk scene in Greenwich Village, learning to speak up for yourself, getting the girl, and ultimately deciding your own fate -- and making it count. Banks himself knows twenty-eight guitar chords. Cheers to S.B. **Reviewed by: Long Nguyen

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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