Reviews for Hokey Pokey

Booklist Reviews 2012 November #1
In the place called Hokey Pokey, the kids--Newbies, Snotsippers, Gapergums, Sillynillys, Longspitters, Groundhog Chasers, and Big Kids--are everywhere, doing what kids do: streaking, leaping, chasing, shrieking, hokeypokeying, and more. In short, playing. Yes, kids are everywhere, but there isn't an adult anywhere except for the Hokey Pokey Man, who brings square snowball treats to the kids. It's here in this eccentric place that Jack, a popular Big Kid, awakens one morning to hear the whispered words "It's time." Could this have something to do with the story all the kids know, in which The Kid announces, "I am going away"? Readers will find out as they follow Jack throughout one memorable day of discoveries, including the knowledge of something called tomorrow. Spinelli has written a tender, bittersweet story of coming of age and the changes and leave-takings it involves. In its spirit and style, the novel evokes Ray Bradbury's sometimes sentimental, nostalgic work, especially Dandelion Wine. Spinelli remains his own man, however, and his latest sui generis novel is sure to delight his many fans. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: An extensive outreach campaign that ranges from a designated hashtag to a national author tour has put this title on the radar of readers well beyond Spinelli's already large audience. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
With landmarks including "Forbidden Hut" and "Gorilla Hill" (a mound of dirt), Hokey Pokey is a Neverland-like world peopled by children characterized as "Newbies," "Snotsippers," "Sillynillies," and "Gappergums." Spinelli's allegory of Childhood Lost can be alienating in its improvisatory nature, with stream-of-consciousness run-on sentences and made-up words. Some readers may thrill to the narrative style, just as others will find it impenetrable.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #3
A cartoony map is the reader's entree into the world of Hokey Pokey. Landmarks include "Forbidden Hut" (which looks like a garden shed), "Gorilla Hill" (a mound of dirt), and a statue in the center labeled "The Kid." But Hokey Pokey is no ordinary locale: one patch of ground is labeled "Cartoons," another "Tantrums," and a disembodied fun-house clown called "Tattooer" looks on. It's a Neverland-like world peopled by "Newbies," "Snotsippers," "Sillynillies," and "Gappergums" (i.e., children). The story's main character is Jack, a "Big Kid" revered by Hokey Pokeyans for his self-confidence, his kindness to the little guy, and taming of his "stallion" (read: bicycle), a beauty called Scramjet. At the start of the book, Jack's mortal enemy, Jubilee, has stolen Scramjet. What's worse, she paints the bike yellow, and she and her friend "girl it up." Jack is furious, but he's also restless; something is telling him that things have changed -- that he has changed, and outgrown bicycle-wrangling and boy/girl rivalries. Spinelli's allegory of Childhood Lost, while universal in theme, can be alienating in its improvisatory nature, with stream-of-consciousness, run-on sentences, non sequiturs, and made-up words. Some readers may thrill to the narrative style, just as others will find it impenetrable. The Hokey Pokey setting isn't idyllic -- a bully called The Destroyer is straight out of Spinelli central casting -- but th[Sun May 1 02:19:51 2016] Wide character in print at E:\websites\aquabrowser\IMCPL\app\site\ line 249. e story has a nostalgic feel, for a time when children were hooked on Looney Toons and unsupervised make-believe play with the neighbor kids was the norm. elissa gershowitz

Kirkus Reviews 2012 December #1
If childhood were a place…. In the adultless land of Hokey Pokey, a dry, sandy environment reminiscent of the Southwest, children arrive when they've outgrown diapers and receive a ticklish tattoo of an eye on their abdomens. At midday they line up for a serving of hokey pokey, an ice treat in any flavor imaginable. The rest of their day is spent playing, watching a giant television with nonstop cartoons or riding bicycles, which are horselike creatures that roll in herds and can buck their owners off at will. In this inventive, modern fable, Jack awakens with a bad feeling that's realized when his legendary Scramjet bike is stolen by Jubilee, a girl no less, and his tattoo has started to fade. As he searches for his bike and the reason why "[t]he world is rushing at him, confusing him, alarming him," he recalls The Story about The Kid who grew up and hinted at tomorrow, an unrecognizable place to children. With nods to J.M. Barrie, Dr. Seuss and Philip Pullman, Newbery Medalist Spinelli crafts stunning turns of phrase as Jack "unfunks" and tries to "dehappen" the day's events. While reluctantly accepting his growing up, Jack brings Hokey Pokey's bully to justice, suddenly finds Jubilee an interesting companion and prepares his Amigos for his imminent departure. A masterful, bittersweet recognition of coming-of-age. (Fiction. 10-13, adult) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 November #2

Spinelli (Jake and Lily) creates a surreal landscape reminiscent of J.M. Barrie's Never Land in this poignant celebration of childhood exuberance. Don't bother looking for adults in Hokey Pokey, where boys and girls dine on flavored ice and spend their days watching cartoons, playing cowboy games, and using their bicycles as trusty steeds. Jack's bike, Scramjet, is the most coveted of all, and one day it's stolen by his archenemy, Jubilee. This marks the first of a series of unsettling events that give Jack, a boy on the brink of adolescence, the eerie impression that "things have shifted." It isn't just that his tattoo, the mark of all residents, is fading; something deep inside him is pulling him away from familiar landmarks, friends, enemies, and routines. Spinelli's story will set imaginations spinning and keep readers guessing about Jack's fate and what Hokey Pokey is all about (so to speak). The ending is both inevitable and a risk (it invokes one of the more clichéd tropes in literature and film), but Spinelli's dizzying portrait of life in Hokey Pokey will keep readers rapt. Ages 10-up. (Jan.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 January

Gr 5-7--Hokey Pokey is a place where children live and rule themselves, riding bicycles like horses, watching cartoons on huge outdoor screens, throwing tantrums and getting hugged, all without an adult in sight. Their lives are almost pure joy as they dance the eponymous dance, savor the eponymous frozen treat, and listen to The Story of the Kid through little shells they carry in their pockets. Jack is their hero and ringleader, dealing with bully Harold the Destroyer, teaching Kiki lessons in sports and Lopez lessons in life, until the day things begin to change. Jack wakes to find that his beloved bike, Scramjet, has been commandeered by Jubilee, whom he despises because she's a girl. Answering his Tarzan cry of despair, Amigos LaJo and Dusty race to his side and notice before he does that Jack's stomach tattoo, given to all children once they're out of diapers, is starting to disappear. Fighting against the realization that Jack is going to leave them, they lure him into one last bike roundup, roping him and tying him down until Jubilee releases him, recognizing that he cannot resist the pull away from all of them toward the Forbidden Hut and the Train, and into The Story. Using elements of myth, allegory, fantasy, and not-quite science fiction, Spinelli has skillfully combined a stream-of-consciousness narrative with delicious inventive language to create a vivid, dreamlike world. This unforgettable coming-of-age story will resonate with tween readers and take its rightful place beside the author's Maniac Magee (Little, Brown, 1990) and Louis Sachar's Holes (Farrar, 1998).--Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

[Page 126]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

VOYA Reviews 2012 December
Jack lives in Hokey Pokey, a wonderland where kids play all day and there are no grown-ups to interfere. Being one of the Big Kids, Jack is looked upon as a leader and enjoys his carefree life immensely--that is, until the day his bicycle, Scramjet, is stolen by Jubilee, someone who has always been avoided because she is a girl. Jack now senses things are becoming askew and is concerned about a train whistle that only he can hear in the distance, as everyone knows in Hokey Pokey there are no trains, only tracks During the 1950s, when Spinelli was growing up in Norristown, Pennsylvania, there was a shaved-ice vendor who walked up and down the town streets pushing a cart loaded with a block of ice that he would scrape, put into a paper cone, and drizzle with flavored syrup. In an interview on, Spinelli shares that this salesman was always referred to as the "Hokey Pokey Man," and he became quite iconic in Norristown. This treasured childhood memory helped inspire Hokey Pokey, another inventive and compassionate story from the Newbery Medal winner, which explores childhood as a place as well as a period of time. Spinelli's poignant story of leaving childhood behind and growing into the unknowns of adolescence is cleverly approached and lyrical in presentation. This is essential for all public and school libraries.--Elaine Gass Hirsch 5Q 4P M Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.