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Hokey Pokey

3.27 of 5 stars 3.27  ·  rating details  ·  1,374 ratings  ·  423 reviews
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, tur ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg SloanNavigating Early by Clare VanderpoolDoll Bones by Holly BlackEscape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris GrabensteinFlora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Newbery 2014
19th out of 94 books — 436 voters
The School for Good and Evil by Soman ChainaniThe Runaway King by Jennifer A. NielsenRump by Liesl ShurtliffThe Ability by M.M. VaughanThe House of Hades by Rick Riordan
Middle Grade Novels of 2013
52nd out of 360 books — 726 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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And yeah, there are spoilers lurking in here. You have been warned.

Not a Jerry Spinelli fan over here. Nope. Some authors you love, some authors you loathe, and some you feel zip, zero, zilch feelings towards whatsoever. That was me and the Spinelli man. Maniac Magee? Nice enough book that did nothing for me. Stargirl? Certainly well written but not my cup of tea. Pull out names like Wringer or Milkweed or Loser and watch as my eyes oh-so-faintly glaze over as I think of what I'll be cooking din
Carol Royce Owen
When you pick this book up expect to be baffled for the first several chapters. You will not understand it. Period. But persist. Keep reading and story lines will start to become clear and you will then not want to stop because you will want to know what happens with Jack, his Amigos, Dusty and LaJo, Lopez, Kiki, Destroyer and even the hated, Jubilee.

Hokey Pokey is a place for Newbies, Snotsippers, Gapperbums, Sillynillies, Longspitters, Groundhog Chasers and Big Kids. A place where they are fr
Who the hell is this book for? School age readers of experimental fiction? Those who would like Irvine Welsh to write a childrens book? Someone who would like to read a coming of age story while eating a bunch of mushrooms? One extra star is given for some interesting turns of phrase, otherwise UGH.
Monica Edinger
Also at my blog.

The border year for me was 6th grade. The idea of adulthood was anathema, but it was coming. Ten going on eleven, I veered back and forth, sometimes playing longstanding fantasy games with my younger sister and other times meanly and harshly dismissing them and her. One day I was happily playing with dolls and the next I couldn't imagine ever doing so again and was out chasing and being chased by boys. Whether I liked it or not I was growing up.

It is this complicated time in life
This was dreadful. I briefly considered giving it two stars because of the underlying symbolism for Jack's growing up and leaving his childhood behind, but the book was very confusing, with too many places and characters for any kind of coherence. Scramjet!!
Still digesting this one. What can I say? My main concern throughout reading it was whether or not this would appeal to kids, and I can't seem to come up with an answer. The first chapter confused the heck out of me, and I continued to read because I feel like I am supposed to like Jerry Spinelli. Once I got through the second chapter, it was better, but I still felt like it lacked tension (it is obvious what is happening to Jack)and it threw focus on things that, in the end, didn't really matte ...more
Random House, 2013
285 pages
Recommended for grades 5+ (Teachers and Librarians: We pre-read so we can recommend the right books to the right readers, that is especially important with a book like this!)

Jack wakes up one day and finds that his beloved Scramjet is gone...stolen by a Girl! The Girl, Jubilee. In a one-day journey to recover Scramjet, Jack finds that his bike belonging to another is not the only change he is facing. In the land of Hokey Pokey you will find kids and on
Barb Middleton
Just when I think I'm lassoing certain elements in children's literature, the hokey pokey comes along and turns me all about. This book is like my first experience of seeing an abstract painting. I tugged an over-sized hand hanging by my head pointing to the picture in the museum. "Uh... daddy, I can do that." The two splotched lines on a piece of white canvas didn't look too difficult. It wasn't until adulthood and viewing the painting at the Guggenheim Museum that I realized my architectural f ...more
Nov 30, 2012 Julie rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: kids
This is an unusual book, and based on the early reviews, apparently one you either love, or really don't. I found it so confusing at the start that I wondered if there was a problem with the digital file of the ARC I had received. There's invented vocabulary in an invented world of Hokey Pokey, where different aspects of childhood are represented by places such as a big screen constantly playing cartoons and a place where you can wait in line to get a snuggle. I enjoyed the creativity of these p ...more
Maria Burel
Okay, so it’s Jerry Spinelli. Jerry Spinelli, whom I’ve enjoyed since I read Maniac Magee many, many years ago. And more recently, I read Jake and Lily (2012), and found that no matter how old I am, I can still somehow relate to his coming-of-age characters.

So. Hokey Pokey. First impressions are everything, right? After the first couple pages, I felt as if I had landed in the middle of Toy Story. And I wasn’t sure that that was going to be a good thing. But I hadn’t been disappointed by Spinelli
Jenn Estepp
Honestly, I just don't even know to say about this one. While reading it, I was really not on board. I may have even said "Argh, I hate this" aloud, to my largely unsympathetic cat. I am not the Ideal Reader for things that are allegorical, nor do I have a high tolerance for the fetisiazation of childhood, both of which are super present here. The only other Spinelli I've read is Stargirl and I wasn't a fan, in part because I think that it, like this is so strident in presenting its world. And, ...more
Perhaps I'm just slow, but it took me a while to realize that Jack was a real boy - this could have been a version of Toy Story. He lives in Hokey Pokey, a land filled with interesting creations and activities, like Snuggler and Tantrums and the Hokey Pokey shaved ice man. He's famous in Hokey Pokey, the owner of "Scramjet", an amazing bike culled from the wild herd; with his two friends, LoJo and Dusty, he's one of the Three Amigos. Then one day he wakes up, "Scramjet" has been taken by a girl ...more
The Library Lady
You know, I really prefer Spinelli when he writes for kids rather than for hipster librarians, book reviewers and teachers......
Clare Cannon
Jun 19, 2013 Clare Cannon rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 10+ advanced readers
Shelves: 08-12yrs

This brilliant book is for young readers who are willing to be taken out of the real world and immersed in allegory. They'll need to leave behind solid ground and float for a while in the atmosphere, not quite sure what they'll bump into, with no idea where they'll land.

Hokey Pokey is the land of kids. From the moment a toddler is out of diapers, they're admitted to the world of kids. They roam around all day riding bikes, playing games and fighting wars. Life is an ice-cream: your favourite fl

Denae Christine
How do I label this book? Part fantasy, part allegory, part pure imagination?

So, the setting was probably the neatest thing about this book. And the fact that pretty much everyone got along fairly well. Even rivalries were mutual and practically friendly. There was a basic understanding of their whole world, and none of the citizens questioned anything. Despite the setting feeling constant, there was still a flux, a give and take caused by certain actions. Unruliness is expected, bickering accep
Originally posted on Literaritea

Spinelli's world of Hokey Pokey was terrific. I loved his new compound words ("bestfriendship," "dropflopping," "shadowblur"). I loved his place names ("Tantrums," "Thousand Puddles"). I loved the feel of Hokey Pokey: an iconic place of childhood activity where children drink Hokey Pokeys when the Hokey Pokey man comes (like the ice cream truck), play on the playground, and bike everywhere on their two-wheeled steeds. The only electronic device in the picture was
When I first began reading this title, I admit that I was a bit confused. I almost quit.

I am so glad that I didn't.

Hokey Pokey is a beautiful allegory about childhood and that terrifying moment when each of us begins to understand that we no longer belong in the magical world of "I'm a kid!"dom.

The imagery is fanciful, yes. Bikes are horses that run in herds and must be wrangled, dolls sprout in rows to be plucked, cartoons are played on the big screen-- and you're allowed to sit as close a
This not a coming of age novel. This is a book about growing up. Specifically, the one day when you grow up and leave childhood behind. More specifically, the last day that Jack will reside in Hokey Pokey, the land of his childhood and the only land he has ever known. Spinelli has imagined an amazing world populated by the likes of Snotsippers, Gappergums, Sillynillys, the Hokey Pokey Man, Snuggler and, best of all, the herd of wild mustang bicycles. Gloriously inventive language reveals a story ...more
Lisa E.
This is a really beautiful book that often had me hanging on the verge of tears but I had to only give it two stars because I really don't think it is for children.

I even gave it to my 10 year old daughter, who is right now dealing with the issue inherent to the plot of the story - she is a child clinging to the precipice of "growing up" and with trepidation. After a few chapters she plopped it on her lap in annoyance and said "What IS this?"

The book is nonlinear, metaphorical and incredibly exi
Brandy Painter
Originally posted at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

Jerry Spinelli is a prolific and much beloved children's book author. His books have always been sort of hit or miss with me. Loser, Crash, and 2011's Jake & Lily were hits. Maniac Magee and Wringer were misses. Spinelli's new book Hokey Pokey falls in this latter category. Those are the books the Newbery committees seem to like though so what do I know? I know that I did not enjoy this book even a smidgen.

Jack may have been an interesting
Ann Carpenter
Even several days later, I'm not sure I'm done digesting this book. The line-by-line writing is amazing. The images are sharp, and the word choice is precise and excellent. The characterization of the main characters is good, and the secondary characters are recognizable as well.

The's hard to really decide about the setting. On the one hand it is highly inventive and original. On the other hand if you think about it for more than thirty seconds everything falls apart. Do kids reall
Jack, Dusty, LJ,are Amigos. The play, ride and have all sorts of adventures in Hokey Pokey. While jack is sleeping his enemy, Jubilee steals his beloved Scramjet, his steed. As he and his friends try to steel it back you get to see and experience the town of Hokey Pokey. Every kids dream playground. while Jack is searching for ScramJet he lifts his arms and Dusty and LJ realize that the eye tattoo on his belly, that every kid in Hokey Pokey has, is almost gone, how could that be no ones tattoo h ...more
Rachael Stein
Imagine, if you will, a world made out of childhood. There are no adults. There are no bedtimes. There are no toothbrushes. You spend every perfect, sunny day riding your bicycle (which you have culled from a herd of wild bicycles), watching cartoons, playing ball, and eating hokey pokey (which is apparently a sort of snow cone - I had never heard of this). You play until you're worn out, and then you collapse under the full moon, only to begin again when the sun comes up.

Such is the daring prem
Alex Baugh
Kids live in their own world and that is where Hokey Pokey is, so before you start reading study the map in the front of the book, which is basically a map of the things of childhood. It is a good guide for two reasons - to understand the layout of Hokey Pokey and to understand the references in the beginning of the story. The first time I tried reading it, I ignored the map and closed the book by page 15. But then, I was given the book to read for a review other than here. I couldn't say no, so ...more
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. ...more
I don’t think I have missed anything by Jerry Spinelli; for me, he is one of the premier YA writers. He writes with humor and an excellent
memory and knowledge of what it feels like to be a kid. Probably any of his books would work well in any middle school classroom. That’s why, reading the first few pages of Hokey Pokey, I was at first puzzled, then surprised, and then intrigued by his evocation of what it might mean to live in a purely kids’ world. His is nothing like William Goldman’s pessimi
I will not review, nor rate this book until C. M. has read it too.


Now that C.M. has read Hokey Pokey and has fallen in love with it, I'll try to write a worthy review.

I love this book! Love it! Once I got beyond the initial strangeness, and I was moving right along with the story and Jack and Jubilee and the wild herds, absolute emotion, of all kinds, overcame me.

I read this book because I've seen it on potential Newbery lists, and I wanted to know if it could win the medal. Honestly, I
I don't even know where to start...I loved this book. To me, it was a tribute to the days of free play as kids...long before the days of soccer practice, running club, etc. Okay, I guess I'll start with the beginning. I didn't like the title, but I LOVED the cover. I didn't like plowing through the first 30ish pages and trying to adjust to the writing style (the made up words, etc.) Once I adjusted to them though, I thought they were brilliant. I do not understand why this book would be in the J ...more
Genevieve Goldstein
In this book,Hokey Pokey, there is Jack and Jubilee. Jack has just found out that he has lost his bike, the one and famous that everyone knows about.Scramjet. One morning, Jubilee found Scramjet in front of her house. She didn't steal though, she took Scramjet and turned it to the way she loved it. It was all painted yellow with a little pompom in the back and little pieces of string coming out from the handle bars. She called it, Hazel. Jack and his two best friends, Dusty and Lajo, have been l ...more
What is the deal with this book?! I have great respect for many of the reviewers who are raving about it, but I just do not see its brilliance.

The reader is plopped in the middle of Hokey Pokey, a sort of Neverland/dreamscape/utopia where there are no grownups, and kids roam around doing kid stuff all day. The main character is Jack, the coolest boy in Hokey Pokey, who wakes up one morning to find that things are changing for him. His beloved bike is missing, and his belly "tattoo," which marks
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Henrico Youth Boo...: Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli 2 12 Nov 14, 2013 04:28PM  
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When Jerry Spinelli was a kid, he wanted to grow up to be either a cowboy or a baseball player. Lucky for us he became a writer instead.

He grew up in rural Pennsylvania and went to college at Gettysburg College and Johns Hopkins University. He has published more than 25 books and has six children and 16 grandchildren.
Jerry Spinelli began writing when he was 16 — not much older than the hero of his
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“It was like the panting of a thousand puppies.” 2 likes
“If you believe it, it happens. If you don't, it doesn't. When you believe him, you put your own power in his hands.” 1 likes
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