Parents' Guide to

King Dork Approximately

By Betsy Bozdech, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Coming-of-age sequel is just as wry, mature as the original.

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This is an appealingly honest, frequently funny take on what it's like to be a teenager. Fans of King Dork will undoubtedly be eager to check back in with Tom -- though they may need to brush up on the original, given the eight-year gap between the books' publication dates. But once you remember who everyone is and what roles they play in Tom's life, you'll quickly get caught up again in the story. Anyone who's ever felt like a misfit (so ... all of us?) will sympathize with his frustration and worries about the perils of high school, from the fear of being singled out for doing anything different to the social impact of how good-looking the person you're dating is.

Because the story takes place at the very end of 1999 and early 2000, hardly anyone uses cell phones (not to mention smartphones, iPods, tablets, or any of the other devices that are ubiquitous today) -- which, along with Tom's fixation on vinyl and classic rock bands, lends the story a certain "retro" appeal and works well with his introversion (he can't imagine why people would want to make themselves more accessible). Tom still can't stand The Catcher in the Rye, but his own wry, authentic, eyes-wide-open observations make him something of a latter-day Holden Caulfield -- albeit one with a lot more humor and self-awareness.

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