Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hokey Pokey - a review

Spinelli, Jerry. 2013. Hokey Pokey. New York: Knopf.
Advance reader copy provided by NetGalley

In the world of Hokey Pokey, populated by Snotsnipppers, Newbies, and Gappergums, and others, The Kid is king. In fact, kids are its only human inhabitants.

For Big Kid, Jack, days pass in a comfortable rhythm of regularity - hanging out with his Amigos, LaJo and Dusty, and riding his bike Scramjet, the envy of every kid in Hokey Pokey.  The rules are simple.  Just remember the Four Nevers:
Never pass a puddle without stomping in it. Never go to sleep until the last minute. Never go near Forbidden Hut. Never kiss a girl.
It's a simple life, a good life.  Until one morning, when things are not the same.  His bike is gone, and

Hokey Pokey is unusual fare for Jerry Spinelli.  It's an allegorical story of childhood delivered by a narrator following the escapades of several different children, and focusing primarily on Jack and his rival and antagonist - the girl, Jubilee.  It's recommended for ages 10 and up, but the beauty of  Hokey Pokey is that it may be read on several levels.  Though the symbolism may be somewhat obvious for older readers, younger readers may simply enjoy Hokey Pokey as a fantasy adventure in an alternate universe. Older readers will see beyond the obvious symbolism of the approaching train and will ponder the relationships between older kids and younger, boys and girls.  Short and thought-provoking. Recommended reading.

Hokey Pokey received starred reviews in School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews.

 Preview the book here:

Interesting note: This is the second book that I've read that features living bicycles. Anyone know the other one?


  1. The language in this one really limits its appeal to kids, I think. I don't think I'll buy it.

    1. I don't have it on my Nook anymore, but I don't recall anything that would be offensive.