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Hank Zipzer: The World's Greatest Underachiever is a series of children's books by former Happy Days actor Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, published by Grosset & Dunlap. The first book, Niagara Falls, or Does It?, was published in 2003. Hank Zipzer was made into a TV series in 2014. Beginning in 2015, the books have been printed in a special font, called Dyslexie, designed to assist dyslexics with reading.


Hank Zipzer is a young boy who is dyslexic. Winkler based the character on himself as a child and his own experiences with dyslexia and ADHD. He lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his family, and attends P.S. 87 at Amsterdam Avenue and W 78th Street. His friends are Frankie Townsend and Ashley Wong.


1. Niagara Falls, or Does It? (January 1, 2003)

Instead of writing an assigned essay on his summer vacation, Hank tries building a model of Niagara Falls, his family's summer vacation spot. This was adapted in the TV series as "Classroom Catastrophe", the first episode of Series 1 and the overall series.

2. I Got a "D" in Salami (May 12, 2003)

Hank tosses his report card in his mother's meat grinder to get out of showing his parents his report card. The chase is on when he finds out his report-card-salami is going to one of his mom's most important sponsor choices! This was adapted in the TV series as "The Mortadella Disaster", the eighth episode of Series 1.

3. Day of the Iguana (September 1, 2003)

Hank tries to disassemble and reassemble the cable box for his science project. But how is he supposed to put it back together when Katherine the iguana has laid her eggs in it? This was adapted in the TV series as "Battle of the Goblins", the fourth episode of Series 1.

4. The Zippity Zinger (December 1, 2003)

Hank's friends choose Hank to be the pitcher for their school, P.S. 87's Olympiad baseball team. Since Hank can't pitch for his life, he thinks his sister's lucky red monkey socks may be the answer. Only one problem - Emily needs them on the same day for her part of the Olympiad! This was adapted in the TV series as "The Lucky Socks", the second episode of Series 1.

5. The Night I Flunked My Field Trip (May 1, 2004)

Hank has an overnight field trip to a docked boat in New York Harbor. But when Hank accidentally undocks the boat, the trouble begins...He makes friends with Colin Sebastian Rich IV.

6. Holy Enchilada! (August 19, 2004)

Hank needs to prepare some enchiladas for his school multi-cultural day. But, he may have added too much hot sauce... Elements from this book were adapted in the TV series as "Anyone for Lizard?", the twelfth episode of Series 1.

7. Help! Somebody Get me out of Fourth Grade! (December 16, 2004)

When his parents get called for a parent-teacher conference, Hank just knows his teacher is going to tell them he's being held back. There's just one way to make sure they don't show up - sabotage!

8. Summer School! What Genius Thought That Up? (April 21, 2005)

Hank gets sent to summer school without his friends, Frankie Townsend and Ashley Wong.

9. My Secret Life as a Ping-pong Wizard (September 22, 2005)

Hank's finally in the fifth grade, except he is still stuck with Ms. Adolf and he's also found a sport he's good at - ping-pong! But when his friends tease the sport, Hank decides to keep it a secret.

10. My Dog's a Scaredy-Cat: A Halloween Tail (August 1, 2006)

Hank tries to scare Nick in a haunted house he makes with his friends. This was adapted in the TV series as "Haunted Hank", the fifth episode of Series 1.

11. The Curtain Went Up, My Pants Fell Down (May 3, 2007)

Hank gets a lead part in a school play (The King and I) but he can only do the play if he gets a B plus on his next math test. He has a math tutor called Heather Payne. This was adapted in the TV series as the third episode of Series 1.

12. Barfing in the Backseat: How I Survived My Family Road Trip (July 5, 2007)

The Zipzers take a road trip to a crossword puzzle tournament and a roller coaster park in North Carolina. But when he mistakenly leaves Ms. Adolf's vacation homework packet at a motel, he and Frankie set out to have it delivered - without Mr. Zipzer finding out.

13. Who Ordered This Baby? Definitely Not Me! (December 27, 2007)

Hank hears his mom talking to Frankie's mom over the phone about a baby. Frankie will be shocked! Or at least until Hank realizes she was talking about herself! This was adapted in the TV series as "Who Ordered the Baby?", the ninth episode of Series 1.

14. The Life of Me: Enter at Your Own Risk (May 1, 2008)

Mr. Rock takes over as Hank's teacher. Hank is psyched....until Mr. Rock suggests that Hank takes an after school reading program, which means he will have to miss tae kwon do. But when Hank gets a crush on a girl in the reading program, and when Mr. Rock says, instead of doing an autobiography (a class assignment), Hank may do a scrapbook of his life, everything is going right. Then Hank finds out that the girl he likes is Nick McKelty's cousin. Elements from this book were adapted in the TV series as "My First Date Dilemma", the thirteenth episode of Series 1.

15. A Tale of Two Tails (November 26, 2008)

Hank's school holds a pet contest and the winner becomes the school mascot. How is Hank supposed to train his dachshund, Cheerio, if he (Cheerio) keeps messing around?

16. Dump Trucks and Dogsleds: I'm on My Way, Mom! (August 6, 2009)

Hank's mom is having a baby, and the baby is going to share a room with Hank. Hank did feel better when his dad took his sister Emily and him on a 'pre-baby' ski trip. But when Hank's mom called to say the baby was coming early, they had to cut their trip short. The only problem was that a freak snowstorm had arrived and they were stuck. Whether they had to ride on horses, dump trucks, dogsleds, or even in a truck with ten Chinese acrobats, they would get home in time to meet Baby Zipzer. Elements from this book were adapted in Hank Zipzer's Christmas Catastrophe, a Christmas TV movie set in the universe of the TV series.

17. A Brand-New Me! (April 20, 2010)

Hank can't graduate without his community service, so Mr. Rock gives him a job cleaning instruments and, while doing the job, Hank discovers his ability to write short plays on the spot, and auditions for a Performing Arts school, all before finding out that Frankie and Ashley will be going to a different school.

18. The Colossal Camera Calamity (04 Jun 2015; based on the CBBC TV series, not part of the original book series)

It's school-photo time, which is the worst time of year for Hank Zipzer. No matter what he does, he always ends up looking like he's just seen Miss Adolf dancing. Bleurg! This year, he's determined to get it right. Unfortunately school bully Nick McKelty has other ideas... This was adapted in the TV series as "Camera Calamity", the first episode of Series 2.

Main characters

Name Bio
Henry "Hank" Daniel Zipzer The main character who has learning challenges (dyslexia).
Nick "The Tick" McKelty The class bully who is none-too-bright.
Fanny Adolf Hank's teacher and Deputy Headmistress who hates fun and funny. She always wears grey clothes, possibly to match her face.
Frankie Townsend Hank's African-American best friend who thinks oxygen is power and has a nickname for everyone.
Leland Love Hank's principal who repeats everything twice and likes to answer his own questions. He has an ugly mole shaped like the Statue of Liberty without the torch.
Ashley Wong Hank's other Chinese-American best friend who is a great athlete and loves rhinestones.
Mr. Gristediano The friend that give him an idea to Hank's parents about changing his type of learning.
Robert Upchurch A 4th (formerly 3rd) grade genius who lives in the same building as Hank and blurts out information at random moments.
Papa Pete Hank's grandfather who is always taking the kids somewhere and pinching his grandkids.
Carlos The counter guy at Hank's mom's deli, the Crunchy Pickle.
Emily Grace Zipzer Hank's younger sister, very smart when it comes to reptiles, considerably annoying, likes Robert Upchurch, and has a pet iguana named Katherine.
Randi Zipzer Hank's mother, runs the Crunchy Pickle Deli, and takes healthy foods to a disgusting new level. Her name is Rosa in the TV series.
Stanley Zipzer Hank's father, who is obsessed with crossword puzzles.
Cheerio Zipzer Hank's dachshund, who looks like a Cheerio when he runs in circles.
Katherine Zipzer Emily's iguana, who slurps food from the dinner table.
Vlady The other counter guy at His mother's deli, the Crunchy Pickle.
Mr. Rock Hank's music teacher who is Hank's favorite teacher.
Mason Harris Jerome Dunn Hank's friend who is in kindergarten.
Heather Payne A very tall, smart girl who tutored Hank in Math.
Sam Chin Hank's other kindergarten friend who plays ping-pong with him.
Luke Whitman A boy in Hank's class who is very gross, and always has his finger in his nose picking boogers.
Dr. Lynn Berger Hank's dyslexia teacher, who is very nice and always encourages Hank.
Mrs. Fink Hank's next-door neighbor who has a crush on Papa Pete and is always baking something for him.
Joelle Atkins Nick's girlfriend that is obsessed with her phone.
Zoe McKelty Hank's girlfriend, also Nick McKelty's cousin.
Collin Sebastian Rich IV Hank's friend in The Night I Flunked My Field Trip. He bites his nails, he only knows three knock-knock jokes and two of them are not funny.
Yoshi A boy from Japan who loves lizards. Hank hosted him in Holy Enchilada!.

TV series

In September 2013, CBBC commissioned a television series adaptation of the books. The show began airing in January 2014 and has been recommissioned for a second and third series.

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