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Hokey Pokey

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,869 ratings  ·  509 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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Sofia There's 285 pages, but it didn't seem that long. The words were pretty big.…moreThere's 285 pages, but it didn't seem that long. The words were pretty big.(less)

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Average rating 3.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,869 ratings  ·  509 reviews

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Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: magical-realism
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.
Carol Royce Owen
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Love of Hopeless Causes
Mar 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy, gunpowder
That's not what it's all about, and yes, it has turned myself around. Book party foul: prose as poetry fragments. ...more
Nov 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
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!! ...more
Monica Edinger
Oct 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 07, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars, re-read
I LOVE LAJO. Oh and I love Jack too, but LaJo is my favorite bc he's such a good friend to Jack.

btw, if you don't have time to read the whole thing, at least read the paragraph that comes before the spoiler - that sums up the book about as well as the whole review does, it just doesn't give as much information.

Some of this was predictable, but a lot of it was a nice surprise. It's a cute story about growing up and what it means to get older, to hit that point where you're not a big kid anymore -
Barb Middleton
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: allegory
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
Maria Burel
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grades
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
Clare Cannon
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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

Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jenn Estepp
Mar 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: kidlit
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
Dec 22, 2012 rated it liked it
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......
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Denae Christine
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 07, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Still mulling...

Based on the idea that children "live in a world all their own" this is a strange form of children only utopia.

Jack wakes and feels different... something is changing, the concept of tomorrow is developing and childhood is on it's way out.

I've categorized this as middle grade, but I'm not really sure what age this would best be suited for. The writing is very simple but very different, and it was hard to get in to, particularly because it's just plain confusing to begi
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
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
Interesting prose, very poetic and whimsey like Dr. Seuss. A dream that Jack is having about his youth and as we all know dreams can take on all sorts of wild ideas. That the bikes were like wild horses was fun to picture. Children roping down there steads to take them all around Hokey Pokey. There is that fine line of youth though... when ten yr olds and 13 yr olds find it difficult to hang and or understand each other. I saw it with my daughter and nieces... She no longer felt a connection wit ...more
Lori Gibbany
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Loved that Hokey Pokey is the town. The imagination present in these children is wonderful. I took this as a coming of age story and the labels of the levels of development of the children in town was interesting. At least the labels for it. Snot sucker for example. To me the best part were others around the main character noticed the changes before he real life. Great book for kids transitioning from child to preteen or one that is struggling in giving up childish things.
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Describes the undescribable nostalgic childhood you had. He somehow doesn't use words to describe unfamiliar feelings we've all felt. A very personal book. ...more
Alex  Baugh
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: randomly-reading
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
Feb 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, audio
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
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was packed with symbolism. It is a beautiful and heart-wrenching story of childhood and maturity that I will never forget. Jerry Spinelli's descriptions were so beautiful, and the inventive setting was wonderfully thought out, and although highly fiction, it was also incredibly accurate. I loved the ending most of all. I loved how everything made sense and the symbolism and metaphors were complete. And, I loved how everything cycled back together, ending with the same beautiful words i ...more
Brandy Painter
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: galleys, middle-grade
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 cha
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Henrico Youth Boo...: Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli 2 14 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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