Hokey Pokey

Hokey Pokey

Book - 2013 | 1st ed.
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Ever since they were Snotsippers, Jack and the girl have fought, until one day she steals his bike and as he and the Amigos try to recover it, Jack realizes that he is growing up and must eventually leave the "goodlands and badlands of Hokey Pokey."
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, c2013.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780440420514
Branch Call Number: SPINE
Characteristics: 282 p. ; 19 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Mar 16, 2020

First Jerry Spinelli book I've read, and I love it! Hokey Pokey is every kid's dream, a world where you can go wild and do what you want and never have any adults messing around with you. I thought he developed Jack wonderfully as he went from a careless boy to a wanderer and leader. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!

Feb 28, 2020

This wasn't the worst book I've ever read, but it isn't the best either. Hokey Pokey is a place where there is only kids, no adults. But when Jacks bike was stolen everything changed, he changed. as the day goes on he realizes that he begins to feel disconnected to to Hokey Pokey, as if he isn't apart of it, but is a spectator watching from the outside. Sadly he realizes that he is growing up and must now leave Hokey Pokey. Metaphorically written, this book is about growing up. But instead of growing gradually, by making his own decisions and learning from his mistakes. Jack is forced to and it feels as if he is loosing a part of himself. Hokey Pokey is described as a charming place and you can really feel it, but the characters was lacking in character. throughout the book I felt like we never get to know them really well, and because of that you couldn't connect with them.

JCLChrisK May 09, 2014

This was too, well, hokey for my tastes. It's well-written as far as language crafting goes and extremely inventive, but I felt Spinelli focused so much on trying to craft his magical version of childhood with all of his inventive names and the like that it stood in the way of character development. I just never really felt with or for the characters because the emphasis seemed to be on the specialness of Hokey Pokey instead of on the specialness of them.
More importantly, in terms of my rating, I think Spinelli wrote this for himself as a child and not contemporary readers. Hokey Pokey is supposed to capture the unique magic of childhood, but it's an old-fashioned childhood that feels out of touch with today's children. The most important things are bicycles, baseball gloves, snow cones, marbles, and things that would have connected with kids 50, 40, maybe even 20 years ago. The most prominent piece of playground equipment featured is a seesaw; I can't remember the last time I saw a playground with a seesaw, because the technology and equipment has moved on. Cartoons are mentioned, but they're Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, and Donald Duck, and no mention is made of computers, video games, the Internet, phones (mobile, smart, or otherwise), tablets, or the like. I have trouble believing current young readers will be able to see themselves and their experiences in Hokey Pokey.
Most importantly, I felt Spinelli failed in his attempt to capture the book's main theme: growing out of childhood. Jack doesn't age out of Hokey Pokey because he's gradually growing into new interests and perspectives, becoming someone slightly different as he gains life experience. He doesn't get to change based on his decisions. No, he is suddenly forced out of childhood by external powers with no warning or sense that he is growing into anything else--it's more like death than growth, and an unexpected, instant, inexplicable death at that. As a recent comparison, Holly Black's Doll Bones deals with the theme so much more effectively, realistically, and poignantly. This book just didn't work for me.

Oct 01, 2013

WOW! Just finished this book and, well, it's unlike most anything I've read before. It might be a bit tough for the first few pages; it really is a completely different world your entering, and it takes a bit of time to get acclimated, but once you get in the swing of things, you realize what is going on with Jack, and the inevitability of what is happening, and how it affects his friends (and his enemy!). Hokey Pokey is a place, populated by groundhog chasers, snotsippers, newbies, and big kids, among others. We've all been here, and we have all left.


"Sometimes the story knows more than the writer." Madeleine L'Engle said that. I think what she meant was that the reader is going to get something out of a story that might have completely slipped by the writer. And few books for children are as prone to this as Jerry Spinelli's Hokey Pokey, a book that dares to recast childhood from a time to a place. In interviews Spinelli has said that the main character of this book is childhood itself. It may be divisive, but there's no denying the writing. Let's just say this much: Your kids have never read ANYTHING quite like it before. I happen to think that's a good thing. Try it then.


Add a Quote

" `Scraaaaaamjet!' Jack cries, but his voice is already a hole in the afterwind."


"The dust plume they raised shone golden in the sun, as if a celestial cloud had just then set them down from their home in some paradise of gods."


“The occasional Snotsipper and Sillynilly blurts ‘Hey Jack!’ while the oldest kids shocked at the pairing of girl bike and boy rider, stand mutely and wonder uneasily about themselves.”

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
violet_whale_50 May 10, 2013

violet_whale_50 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 8 and 12


ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 12


Add a Summary

It should be just another day in Hokey Pokey. For Jack, it's his last. Somewhere, deep inside of himself, he knows it. And not just because his beloved bike Scramjet, is now in the possession of his number one most hated rival, the loathed girl Jubilee. No, it's more than that. When his friends start noticing that the tattoo on his belly, the one on every kid in Hokey Pokey, is starting to fade away, he knows his time is up. Welcome to Hokey Pokey. A wonderland of a place where a kid gets to be a kid for as long as they like, every day. It's the only place Jack has ever known and now he's got to go.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at OPL

To Top