It’s Tiny Cooper’s turn in the spotlight in this companion novel to New York Times bestseller Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
 
Jazz hands at the ready! Tiny Cooper (“the world’s largest person who is also really, really gay”) stole readers’ hearts when he was introduced to the world in the New York Times bestselling book Will Grayson, Will Grayson, co-authored by John Green and David Levithan. Now Tiny finally gets to tell his story—from his fabulous birth and childhood to his quest for true love and his infamous parade of ex-boyfriends—the way he always intended: as a musical! Filled with honesty, humor, and “big, lively, belty” musical numbers, the novel is told through the full script of the musical first introduced in Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
© Beth Levithan
When not writing during spare hours on weekends, David Levithan is editorial director at Scholastic and the founding editor of the PUSH imprint, which is devoted to finding new voices and new authors in teen literature. His acclaimed novels Boy Meets Boy and The Realm of Possibility started as stories he wrote for his friends for Valentine's Day (something he's done for the past 22 years and counting) that turned themselves into teen novels. He's often asked if the book is a work of fantasy or a work of reality, and the answer is right down the middle—it's about where we're going, and where we should be. View titles by David Levithan

 

AN INTRODUCTORY NOTE

 

 

CHARACTERS

 

 

 

MUSICAL NUMBERS

 

 

 

 

 

ACT I

ACT I, SCENE 1

It’s a dark stage, and at first all you hear are murmurs, a heartbeat, and heavy breathing. Like, serious Lamaze. Then we see, in the middle of the stage, a large piece of paper showing two bare, spread legs, discreetly covered by a hospital sheet. The heartbeat gets louder. The breathing gets heavier and more frantic, like a dinosaur is sitting on Santa and tickling him at the same time. Finally, as it all crescendos, TINY COOPER comes into the world, crashing through the piece of paper and entering spectacularly onto the stage.

We are not going for realism here. He should not be naked and covered with amniotic fluid. That’s gross. He should not be wearing a diaper. He’s not into that. Instead, the person who emerges should be the large, stylish Tiny Cooper that you will see for the next two acts. To delineate him from Tiny at other ages, you should have him wearing a button that says AGE: 0.

Most babies come into the world crying or gasping or snotting.

Not Tiny Cooper.

He comes into the world singing.

Cue: Opening chords of “I WAS BORN THIS WAY.” This is a big, lively, belty number—because, let’s face it, if Elphaba got to sing “Defying Gravity” at the start of Wicked, she’d be much, much happier throughout the entire show. Tiny has just fallen into the world—some would say he was pushed—and already he has a sense of who he is and what he’s going to do. The music and the production value must reflect that. Sparkles, people. Lots of sparkles. Do not get stingy with the sparkles. The reason drag queens love them so much is that you can get them for cheap.

TINY:

Hello, my name is Tiny Cooper . . . what’s yours? I’ve just been born and, man, it feels good!

Cue music.

[“I WAS BORN THIS WAY”]

TINY:

I was born this way,

big-boned and happily gay.

I was born this way,

right here in the U.S. of A.

It’s pointless for you to try

to pinpoint how I became

so G-A-Y.

From my very first swish inflection,

the rainbow curved in my direction.

I’ve got brown hair,

big hips,

and green, green eyes.

And when I grow up

I’m gonna make out

with guys, guys, guys!

Why try to hide it?

What good would that do?

I was born this way

and if you don’t like it

that says enough about you.

If you find it odd,

take it up with God.

Because who else do you say

could make me shine this way?

All God’s children wear traveling shoes

whether you’ve got flat feet

or twinkle toes.

I’m going to dance right into this life

and keep dancing

as it goes.

I was born this way,

big-boned and happily gay.

I was born this way,

right here in the U.S. of A.

It’s pointless for you to try

to pinpoint how I became

so G-A-Y.

From my very first swish inflection,

the rainbow curved in my direction.

I’ve got genes that fit me well

and a spirit all my own

I was born this way—

The rest is a great unknown!

Really belting now.

I.

was.

born.

this.

way.

And I love.

the way.

I.

was.

born.

The rest

is a great unknown.

But I’m ready,

oh yes, I’m ready

to find my own!

If anyone is going to object to this musical, they will have left the theater at this point. Which is fine. That means for the rest of the time, you’ll have a crowd that really gets it.

Tiny Cooper steps over to the side of the stage, confiding in the audience. The stage clears. The spotlight is on him. (You will need a very big spotlight.)

A note on the spotlight: It should be very clear from the beginning that this is Tiny’s special place. I know plenty of people—like my best friend, Will, and my most recent ex (also named Will; long story)—who want to stay as far away from the spotlight as possible. But there are those of us who draw our power from those electric moments when everyone is watching, everyone is listening, and there is the most perfect silence you can imagine, the entire room waiting to hear whatever you will say next. Especially for those of us who ordinarily feel ignored, a spotlight is a circle of magic, with the strength to draw us from the darkness of our everyday lives.

The thing about a spotlight is that you have to step into it. You have to get onto that stage. I haven’t been ready for a lot of things, but from early on, I was ready for this.

TINY:

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t gay, although there were definitely times I realized it more than others. And I can’t remember a time I wasn’t huge—which pretty much erased hiding as an option. This was my normal—big and gay. I would have never thought there was anything unusual about it. Except that I didn’t live alone on a dessert island. [Misspelling intentional!] No, there had to be other people around. And the reaction I got from some of them made me self-conscious.

You don’t think babies can hear you. But you’re wrong. They can hear you.

The spotlight returns to the center of the stage. TINY’S MOM is wheeling a rather large, somewhat garish pink baby carriage. TINY’S DAD is walking beside her. The CROWD is made up of neighbors, all of them nosy, many of them judgmental. As they sing “OH! WHAT A BIG GAY BABY!” you should get a sense that they are both intrigued and disturbed by having such a big gay baby in their midst. As for Mom and Dad—they are alright with having a big gay baby, but they’re tired, because having a big gay baby takes a lot of work. Not just because he wants to dance all night and demands milk shakes from his mother pretty much every hour, but because of the endless questions from neighbors and the “guidance” of family members who seem to think Mom and Dad have control over how big or how gay their big gay baby is.

Mom and Dad can no more make me straight than they can make me short. There’s this thing called biology, and it’s calling the shots. Mom and Dad realize this. Others do not.

The tune here is an old-fashioned town-crowd melody—kind of like how the people from the town in The Music Man might sound if Harold Hill had brought an infant homosexual to town instead of wind instruments.

[“OH! WHAT A BIG GAY BABY!”]

CROWD:

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

He must weigh twenty pounds.

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

Why is he making those sounds?

TINY

(makes baby disco sounds, sort of like a gay dance club has opened on Sesame Street)

CROWD:

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

Feeding him must be such work!

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

He only falls asleep to Björk!

MOM AND DAD:

Possibly maybe . . .

Possibly maybe . . .

CROWD:

He prefers hot male nurses

and cries at ugly purses.

Has a booty and knows to shake it.

Has a pacifier and loves to take it.

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

Bedazzle the diapers and order them large!

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

Pimp his crib the size of a barge!

MOM AND DAD:

Look at this Big Gay Baby of ours—

not something you read about in Dr. Spock.

Look at our Big Gay Baby—

not what we were expecting when we were

expecting.

Hello, dear Big Gay Baby,

you might have to run before you can walk.

CROWD:

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

We’re not really sure how we feel.

MEN IN CROWD:

Be a man, boy! Be a man!

WOMEN IN CROWD:

That’s our plan, boy! That’s our plan!

CROWD:

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

Already the size of a giant T. rex.

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

So unimpressed by the opposite sex.

He dances to show tunes

and has cheeks round as full moons.

We wish he’d show some respect,

but with a Big Gay Baby, what can you ex—

MOM AND DAD (spoken):

Shhh! He’s sleeping!

CROWD

(turning it into a lullaby):

Goodnight Sondheim, goodnight June.

Goodnight faggot, goodnight room.

Welcome, Big Gay Baby!

You’re going to find . . .

it’s a helluva world!

 

 

ACT I, SCENE 2

Now Tiny is four. (If he’s wearing a button, change it to AGE: 4.) The carriage is wheeled offstage, and Mom and Dad return carrying a pew-like bench. They sit down on it, with Tiny in the middle. The chorus arranges itself behind them, in the formation of a church choir.

Tiny looks a little uncomfortable between his parents.

TINY:

It wasn’t very long before my parents introduced me to their religion. I was four, so I didn’t know there was any possibility of questioning it. Plus, I wanted so much to fit in. I know that’s the story of our whole lives, but it all starts here. More than anything else, we want to fit into our own families.

DAD:

Son, it’s very important to me that you take this seriously.

TINY:

Yes, Dad.

MOM:

It’s not to be questioned. This is how we were raised, and it’s how we are going to raise you. It is very important to us.

TINY:

I understand, Mom.

MOM AND DAD:

Good.

The music for “RELIGION” should be . . . well . . . religious. Hymnlike and intense, as if sung by a true church choir. It must be sung very seriously, as if we’re in a house of worship. I mean, not in a Sister Act, gospel-choir sense—these are NOT nuns led by Whoopi Goldberg. They are from Illinois. And not the gospel parts of Illinois. We are deep in the suburbs here.

Tiny looks slightly uncomfortable in the pew.

[“RELIGION”]

DAD, MOM, AND CHORUS:

Every Sunday

Every Sunday

Every Sunday

is our day

for religion.

Every Sunday

Every Sunday

Every Sunday

we congregate

and pray.

Every Sunday

Every Sunday

Every Sunday

is a

visitation.

Every Sunday

Every Sunday

Every Sunday

we watch

them play.

A television is wheeled out in front of the Cooper family. Dad turns it on. They are basked in the glow of the game. All the chorus members take out Chicago Bears banners and foam #1 fingers and begin to wave them in a synchronized, still church-like way.

As the song goes on, we should see Tiny getting more and more into it.

DAD, MOM, AND CHORUS:

Hail Mary

Hail Mary

Hail Mary . . .

Pass!

Godspeed

Godspeed

Godspeed . . .

To the end zone!

(Hymnlike, the chorus now splits into men and women, echoing each other.)

WOMEN:

Remember the Super Bowl Shuffle.

MEN:

Remember the Super Bowl Shuffle.

WOMEN:

In this land of plenty—

MEN:

In this land of plenty—

WOMEN:

—we won Super Bowl Twenty.

MEN:

—we won Super Bowl Twenty.

TIME Magazine’s Top Ten Children’s Books of 2015
ALA Rainbow List Selection 2016


“Tiny will have readers falling out of their chairs laughing. . . . It's big. It's gay. It's outrageous and hilarious.” —Kirkus Reviews 

★"Levithan has turned in another star turn with a book that is witty, wise, and well worthy of an encore." Booklist, starred review

★"Tiny’s passion for composing a big, beautiful life and a big, beautiful show overflows in this thoroughly magical book.” BCCB, starred review 

★"Tiny Cooper . . . gets his own star turn." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"[Hold Me Closer] is able to stand on its own as a story of coming out, looking (and looking and looking) for love, and valuing and trusting one’s friends." —Horn Book


Praise for Will Grayson, Will Grayson:

New York Times Bestseller
New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
ALA Stonewall Honor Book

Children’s Choice Book Award Winner – Teen Choice Book of the Year
Indie’s Choice Young Adult Honor Book
ALA Rainbow Project Reading List

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a complete romp. [It is] so funny, rude and original that by the time flowers hit the stage, even the musical-averse will cheer.” —The New York Times Book Review

“[It] will have readers simultaneously laughing, crying and singing at the top of their lungs.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“A terrific high-energy tale.” —Booklist, starred review

“It is such a good book. [Green and Levithan] are two of the best writers writing today.” —NPR’s The Roundtable

“A brilliant novel.” —Seattle Times

“ A winning combination infused with wit, sarcasm, and plenty of musical references.” —Chicago Tribune

“This novel has serious buzz.” —EntertainmentWeekly.com

“One of the best books of the year.” —Bookpage

About

It’s Tiny Cooper’s turn in the spotlight in this companion novel to New York Times bestseller Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
 
Jazz hands at the ready! Tiny Cooper (“the world’s largest person who is also really, really gay”) stole readers’ hearts when he was introduced to the world in the New York Times bestselling book Will Grayson, Will Grayson, co-authored by John Green and David Levithan. Now Tiny finally gets to tell his story—from his fabulous birth and childhood to his quest for true love and his infamous parade of ex-boyfriends—the way he always intended: as a musical! Filled with honesty, humor, and “big, lively, belty” musical numbers, the novel is told through the full script of the musical first introduced in Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

Author

© Beth Levithan
When not writing during spare hours on weekends, David Levithan is editorial director at Scholastic and the founding editor of the PUSH imprint, which is devoted to finding new voices and new authors in teen literature. His acclaimed novels Boy Meets Boy and The Realm of Possibility started as stories he wrote for his friends for Valentine's Day (something he's done for the past 22 years and counting) that turned themselves into teen novels. He's often asked if the book is a work of fantasy or a work of reality, and the answer is right down the middle—it's about where we're going, and where we should be. View titles by David Levithan

Excerpt

 

AN INTRODUCTORY NOTE

 

 

CHARACTERS

 

 

 

MUSICAL NUMBERS

 

 

 

 

 

ACT I

ACT I, SCENE 1

It’s a dark stage, and at first all you hear are murmurs, a heartbeat, and heavy breathing. Like, serious Lamaze. Then we see, in the middle of the stage, a large piece of paper showing two bare, spread legs, discreetly covered by a hospital sheet. The heartbeat gets louder. The breathing gets heavier and more frantic, like a dinosaur is sitting on Santa and tickling him at the same time. Finally, as it all crescendos, TINY COOPER comes into the world, crashing through the piece of paper and entering spectacularly onto the stage.

We are not going for realism here. He should not be naked and covered with amniotic fluid. That’s gross. He should not be wearing a diaper. He’s not into that. Instead, the person who emerges should be the large, stylish Tiny Cooper that you will see for the next two acts. To delineate him from Tiny at other ages, you should have him wearing a button that says AGE: 0.

Most babies come into the world crying or gasping or snotting.

Not Tiny Cooper.

He comes into the world singing.

Cue: Opening chords of “I WAS BORN THIS WAY.” This is a big, lively, belty number—because, let’s face it, if Elphaba got to sing “Defying Gravity” at the start of Wicked, she’d be much, much happier throughout the entire show. Tiny has just fallen into the world—some would say he was pushed—and already he has a sense of who he is and what he’s going to do. The music and the production value must reflect that. Sparkles, people. Lots of sparkles. Do not get stingy with the sparkles. The reason drag queens love them so much is that you can get them for cheap.

TINY:

Hello, my name is Tiny Cooper . . . what’s yours? I’ve just been born and, man, it feels good!

Cue music.

[“I WAS BORN THIS WAY”]

TINY:

I was born this way,

big-boned and happily gay.

I was born this way,

right here in the U.S. of A.

It’s pointless for you to try

to pinpoint how I became

so G-A-Y.

From my very first swish inflection,

the rainbow curved in my direction.

I’ve got brown hair,

big hips,

and green, green eyes.

And when I grow up

I’m gonna make out

with guys, guys, guys!

Why try to hide it?

What good would that do?

I was born this way

and if you don’t like it

that says enough about you.

If you find it odd,

take it up with God.

Because who else do you say

could make me shine this way?

All God’s children wear traveling shoes

whether you’ve got flat feet

or twinkle toes.

I’m going to dance right into this life

and keep dancing

as it goes.

I was born this way,

big-boned and happily gay.

I was born this way,

right here in the U.S. of A.

It’s pointless for you to try

to pinpoint how I became

so G-A-Y.

From my very first swish inflection,

the rainbow curved in my direction.

I’ve got genes that fit me well

and a spirit all my own

I was born this way—

The rest is a great unknown!

Really belting now.

I.

was.

born.

this.

way.

And I love.

the way.

I.

was.

born.

The rest

is a great unknown.

But I’m ready,

oh yes, I’m ready

to find my own!

If anyone is going to object to this musical, they will have left the theater at this point. Which is fine. That means for the rest of the time, you’ll have a crowd that really gets it.

Tiny Cooper steps over to the side of the stage, confiding in the audience. The stage clears. The spotlight is on him. (You will need a very big spotlight.)

A note on the spotlight: It should be very clear from the beginning that this is Tiny’s special place. I know plenty of people—like my best friend, Will, and my most recent ex (also named Will; long story)—who want to stay as far away from the spotlight as possible. But there are those of us who draw our power from those electric moments when everyone is watching, everyone is listening, and there is the most perfect silence you can imagine, the entire room waiting to hear whatever you will say next. Especially for those of us who ordinarily feel ignored, a spotlight is a circle of magic, with the strength to draw us from the darkness of our everyday lives.

The thing about a spotlight is that you have to step into it. You have to get onto that stage. I haven’t been ready for a lot of things, but from early on, I was ready for this.

TINY:

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t gay, although there were definitely times I realized it more than others. And I can’t remember a time I wasn’t huge—which pretty much erased hiding as an option. This was my normal—big and gay. I would have never thought there was anything unusual about it. Except that I didn’t live alone on a dessert island. [Misspelling intentional!] No, there had to be other people around. And the reaction I got from some of them made me self-conscious.

You don’t think babies can hear you. But you’re wrong. They can hear you.

The spotlight returns to the center of the stage. TINY’S MOM is wheeling a rather large, somewhat garish pink baby carriage. TINY’S DAD is walking beside her. The CROWD is made up of neighbors, all of them nosy, many of them judgmental. As they sing “OH! WHAT A BIG GAY BABY!” you should get a sense that they are both intrigued and disturbed by having such a big gay baby in their midst. As for Mom and Dad—they are alright with having a big gay baby, but they’re tired, because having a big gay baby takes a lot of work. Not just because he wants to dance all night and demands milk shakes from his mother pretty much every hour, but because of the endless questions from neighbors and the “guidance” of family members who seem to think Mom and Dad have control over how big or how gay their big gay baby is.

Mom and Dad can no more make me straight than they can make me short. There’s this thing called biology, and it’s calling the shots. Mom and Dad realize this. Others do not.

The tune here is an old-fashioned town-crowd melody—kind of like how the people from the town in The Music Man might sound if Harold Hill had brought an infant homosexual to town instead of wind instruments.

[“OH! WHAT A BIG GAY BABY!”]

CROWD:

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

He must weigh twenty pounds.

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

Why is he making those sounds?

TINY

(makes baby disco sounds, sort of like a gay dance club has opened on Sesame Street)

CROWD:

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

Feeding him must be such work!

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

He only falls asleep to Björk!

MOM AND DAD:

Possibly maybe . . .

Possibly maybe . . .

CROWD:

He prefers hot male nurses

and cries at ugly purses.

Has a booty and knows to shake it.

Has a pacifier and loves to take it.

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

Bedazzle the diapers and order them large!

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

Pimp his crib the size of a barge!

MOM AND DAD:

Look at this Big Gay Baby of ours—

not something you read about in Dr. Spock.

Look at our Big Gay Baby—

not what we were expecting when we were

expecting.

Hello, dear Big Gay Baby,

you might have to run before you can walk.

CROWD:

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

We’re not really sure how we feel.

MEN IN CROWD:

Be a man, boy! Be a man!

WOMEN IN CROWD:

That’s our plan, boy! That’s our plan!

CROWD:

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

Already the size of a giant T. rex.

Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!

So unimpressed by the opposite sex.

He dances to show tunes

and has cheeks round as full moons.

We wish he’d show some respect,

but with a Big Gay Baby, what can you ex—

MOM AND DAD (spoken):

Shhh! He’s sleeping!

CROWD

(turning it into a lullaby):

Goodnight Sondheim, goodnight June.

Goodnight faggot, goodnight room.

Welcome, Big Gay Baby!

You’re going to find . . .

it’s a helluva world!

 

 

ACT I, SCENE 2

Now Tiny is four. (If he’s wearing a button, change it to AGE: 4.) The carriage is wheeled offstage, and Mom and Dad return carrying a pew-like bench. They sit down on it, with Tiny in the middle. The chorus arranges itself behind them, in the formation of a church choir.

Tiny looks a little uncomfortable between his parents.

TINY:

It wasn’t very long before my parents introduced me to their religion. I was four, so I didn’t know there was any possibility of questioning it. Plus, I wanted so much to fit in. I know that’s the story of our whole lives, but it all starts here. More than anything else, we want to fit into our own families.

DAD:

Son, it’s very important to me that you take this seriously.

TINY:

Yes, Dad.

MOM:

It’s not to be questioned. This is how we were raised, and it’s how we are going to raise you. It is very important to us.

TINY:

I understand, Mom.

MOM AND DAD:

Good.

The music for “RELIGION” should be . . . well . . . religious. Hymnlike and intense, as if sung by a true church choir. It must be sung very seriously, as if we’re in a house of worship. I mean, not in a Sister Act, gospel-choir sense—these are NOT nuns led by Whoopi Goldberg. They are from Illinois. And not the gospel parts of Illinois. We are deep in the suburbs here.

Tiny looks slightly uncomfortable in the pew.

[“RELIGION”]

DAD, MOM, AND CHORUS:

Every Sunday

Every Sunday

Every Sunday

is our day

for religion.

Every Sunday

Every Sunday

Every Sunday

we congregate

and pray.

Every Sunday

Every Sunday

Every Sunday

is a

visitation.

Every Sunday

Every Sunday

Every Sunday

we watch

them play.

A television is wheeled out in front of the Cooper family. Dad turns it on. They are basked in the glow of the game. All the chorus members take out Chicago Bears banners and foam #1 fingers and begin to wave them in a synchronized, still church-like way.

As the song goes on, we should see Tiny getting more and more into it.

DAD, MOM, AND CHORUS:

Hail Mary

Hail Mary

Hail Mary . . .

Pass!

Godspeed

Godspeed

Godspeed . . .

To the end zone!

(Hymnlike, the chorus now splits into men and women, echoing each other.)

WOMEN:

Remember the Super Bowl Shuffle.

MEN:

Remember the Super Bowl Shuffle.

WOMEN:

In this land of plenty—

MEN:

In this land of plenty—

WOMEN:

—we won Super Bowl Twenty.

MEN:

—we won Super Bowl Twenty.

Praise

TIME Magazine’s Top Ten Children’s Books of 2015
ALA Rainbow List Selection 2016


“Tiny will have readers falling out of their chairs laughing. . . . It's big. It's gay. It's outrageous and hilarious.” —Kirkus Reviews 

★"Levithan has turned in another star turn with a book that is witty, wise, and well worthy of an encore." Booklist, starred review

★"Tiny’s passion for composing a big, beautiful life and a big, beautiful show overflows in this thoroughly magical book.” BCCB, starred review 

★"Tiny Cooper . . . gets his own star turn." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"[Hold Me Closer] is able to stand on its own as a story of coming out, looking (and looking and looking) for love, and valuing and trusting one’s friends." —Horn Book


Praise for Will Grayson, Will Grayson:

New York Times Bestseller
New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
ALA Stonewall Honor Book

Children’s Choice Book Award Winner – Teen Choice Book of the Year
Indie’s Choice Young Adult Honor Book
ALA Rainbow Project Reading List

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a complete romp. [It is] so funny, rude and original that by the time flowers hit the stage, even the musical-averse will cheer.” —The New York Times Book Review

“[It] will have readers simultaneously laughing, crying and singing at the top of their lungs.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“A terrific high-energy tale.” —Booklist, starred review

“It is such a good book. [Green and Levithan] are two of the best writers writing today.” —NPR’s The Roundtable

“A brilliant novel.” —Seattle Times

“ A winning combination infused with wit, sarcasm, and plenty of musical references.” —Chicago Tribune

“This novel has serious buzz.” —EntertainmentWeekly.com

“One of the best books of the year.” —Bookpage

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