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[Review] Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli

January 12, 2013

Hokey Pokey

Spinelli, Jack.  Hokey Pokey.  304pp. Knopf Books.  January 8, 2013.  9780375831980.  Reading this story from an adult perspective threw me initially.  I was not sure if the main character was a real person or not.  The first couple of chapters seemed as if the reader was dropped dead in the middle of Toy Story 4, but I kept reading because this is Jerry Spinelli and I knew something good was about to happen. . .and it did.  The story takes place in Hokey Pokey. Hokey Pokey is the land of children.  The children are broken up into categories: snotsippers, silliemillies, and Big Kids.   There’s a drink all the kids get from the Hokey Pokey man when he comes around (like the ice cream truck).  They ride everywheres on bikes and play outdoors and Hokey Pokey has different regions or areas to it: the lands of Tantrums, Thousand Puddles, Dolls, and Cartoons.   The only digital or rather electrical gadget is the giant cartoon screen that is watched by the younger children in the region referred to as Cartoon.  There’s also mention of TV watching once at the end of the story…loads of symbolism and hidden messages as to what has become of a child’s life in today’s times.  There’s also the creation of compound word usage in the land of Hokey Pokey such as, “bestfriendship and dropflopping.”

The story starts off with Jack  and his friends LaJo and Dusty searching for Jack’s favorite bike, Scramjet, which has been taken/stolen/bikenapped by Jack’s arch enemy, Jubilee.  Jubilee, by the way,  is a girl and Scramjet  is an amazing bike.  Bikes have horse like qualities in this land and  travel in bike herds until they get hulled away from the herd by a new owner.  Jack starts spending all his time in search of Scramjet and then he starts to notice warning signs that are letting him know he’s aging out of life in Hokey Pokey…reminding him that is now approaching adolescence and will have to leave the land of childhood.  So, Jack has to now make a decision.  Should he waste his time and last days in Hokey Pokey looking for the missing bike, or choose to make the best of his remaining days?

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