Steven Banks writes with shocking honesty in his 170-page young adult novel, King of the Creeps. One would expect exceptional talent from
Banks since heís had his own national TV series on PBS Ė The Steven Banks Show Ė and was the head writer for
SpongeBob SquarePants. What I didnít expect was the intense insight into the minds of youth and the depth of the human growth process. Interestingly,
Banks is also an accomplished actor and has appeared in numerous films, TV shows and stage productions, including the critically acclaimed Home Entertainment Center. King of the Creeps is
hiss debut novel, and I sincerely hope to see more from this talented author. So will you, once youíve read this incredible tale.
The lead character, Tom, is a very unhappy young man. The school nerd, he feels even more depressed now, because the school dance has come around again and heís never going to get a girl to go with him. It sure doesnít help that his home life is tense with his dad barking negativity and his motherís constant pressure to find a girl.
Strictly by coincidence, Tom finds himself on his knees hiding from two girls he admires from school and hears them talk about
a record they spotted in the window of a music store. Tom is shocked when he hears how the girls are talking about the musician, and a bit jealous, too. Then he realizes that the girls were talking about Bob Dylan, the folk singer everyone seems to be playing on the radio these days.
He realizes that his features are similar to Dylanís; perhaps he, too, should bee a folksinger.
Scraping together his savings, he finally gets away from his parents and travels to Greenwich Village to buy a guitar. But his dream of owning a guitar faded quickly when he was robbed in an alley. It doesnít matter, because fate walked by
- in the form of the beautiful Angelina. Tom does everything he can to stay by her side that day, rolling out lie after lie trying to impress her. Suddenly he finds himself forced onstage to perform, and he doesnít know how to play guitar!
I truly enjoyed every moment of this tale. The plot touches on racism, political upheaval in the 1960s and crooked officials. King of the Creeps is about doing the right thing, inspiring change by facing fears, and setting an example.
It is also about the danger of telling lies and how they can catch up to you quickly. Tom shows readers that it doesnít matter what your outer appearance is; it's what you do and say that count.
Alfred A Knopf, an imprint of Random House, published King of the Creeps in the U.S. The hardcover book is protected by an illustrated cover that was designed by Bill Ledger,
although the hardcover itself does not contain illustrations or graphics.