Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hokey Pokey

Hokey Pokey
by Jerry Spinelli

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. (description from

I had a really hard time with this book. When you start reading it, it's as if you are waking up and have entered a dream. Nothing is explained very well and Spinelli reveals the way things work veerrrryyyy slowly.

At first I really had no idea what Hokey Pokey was supposed to be - why were the kids there, what IS this place? I was SO confused. It took until more than halfway through the book for me to understand enough to realize that Hokey Pokey was a metaphor for the land of childhood!
I had an inkling, but it took a long time for that theme to really develop itself.  I found so many things confusing, and in the audio book version, there is no map of Hokey Pokey, so that was a little disorienting and the words "Hokey Pokey" are also used by Spinelli for four different things...not at all confusing to listen to!
Overall, I found that the concept of this book has been explored better in other books. I found the writing style (almost stream of consciousness) to be disorienting, and I just never really felt at all invested in the characters.  In fact, I found myself mostly pissed off at the author listening, because every time I tried to like a character, they did something stereotypical or gender specific that just made me aggravated all over again. 
I almost want to write to Spinelli and ask why he felt the need to have boys and girls feel they need to be at war with one another constantly? Why they can't like the same things?  Why they had separate sections of Hokey Pokey to enjoy?

Not the book for me. :/
Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for SLJ

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