Review: Hokey Pokey

Title: Hokey Pokey

Author: Jerry Spinelli

Publisher: Random House

Release Date: January 8, 2013

Pages: 261 (Paperback)

Genre: fiction, MG

Audience: 10+

Source: ARC, NCTE

Summary from Goodreads:

“Welcome to Hokey Pokey. A place and a time, when childhood is at its best: games to play, bikes to ride, experiences to be had. There are no adults in Hokey Pokey, just kids, and the laws governing Hokey Pokey are simple and finite. But when one of the biggest kids, Jack, has his beloved bike stolen—and by a girl, no less—his entire world, and the world of Hokey Pokey, turns to chaos. Without his bike, Jack feels like everything has started to go wrong. He feels different, not like himself, and he knows something is about to change. And even more troubling he alone hears a faint train whistle. But that’s impossible: every kid knows there no trains in Hokey Pokey, only tracks.

Master storyteller Jerry Spinelli has written a dizzingly inventive fable of growing up and letting go, of leaving childhood and its imagination play behind for the more dazzling adventures of adolescence, and of learning to accept not only the sunny part of day, but the unwelcome arrival of night, as well.”

What I liked:

The description of Hokey Pokey was brilliant. The tattoos and roaming bikes made me chuckle. I liked the optimistic view point of a children’s world rather than the pessimistic view point most texts offer (such as Lord of the Flies). The self-sufficiency of the Kids did bring me back to my childhood (cartoons, riding bikes, etc). Spinilli’s imagery made Hokey Pokey come alive.

What I didn’t like:

Spinelli didn’t make me care about the characters before the action started taking place. Jack seemed more like a bully than leader which made it difficult to to feel empathy for him. I also didn’t like the ending. I’m not going to give anything away, but it just didn’t work for me.

Overall Impression: When I saw that Jerry Spinelli put out another book I couldn’t wait to devour it just like I did with StarGirl and Milkweed. However, I was highly disappointed. While I finished the book in one sitting (on the flight back from NCTE in Las Vegas), I couldn’t really appreciate it. The concept of the book was beautiful, a never-never land of sorts but the execution wasn’t for me.  The overall disappointing factor was the ending.

Recommendation: I would recommend this book to a much younger audience with some reservations.


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